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Monday, January 29, 2007

Tokyo's Best Oden

お亀 おでん屋 東京

Oden in TokyoNot far from Higashi Kitazawa station in Tokyo’s Setagaya ward is one of Tokyo’s best kept oden secrets: Okame.

Oden is the steamy, savory, assortment of long-simmered vegetables, eggs, seafood, and other various bits and pieces that is most commonly seen at one end of the counter in convenience stores.

Okame – named after the mask of a red-cheeked, smiling, pudding-faced woman often seen at festivals and in traditional decorations - is a small, family-run restaurant in a quiet Setagaya neighborhood where the art of oden has been honed for decades.

OkameWhile it is eaten all year round, oden is traditional winter fare. So even though it was fairly late on Sunday evening, my friend and I were lucky that Okame had just two seats remaining.

Oden is often cooked in a thick, almost gooey, broth, but Okame’s trademark broth is much thinner, and with a corresponding delicacy of taste lacking in, for example, the convenience store variety that is ladled out into the polystyrene box with as little thought as it was thrown in to the cooker.

As well as oden, the restaurant serves a variety of seafood and vegetable delicacies – off-setting the intrinsic homeliness of their staple with a little haute cuisine.
Okame
There is very limited choice at Okame when it comes to brands of alcohol, but the shop’s choice has never let us down.
We went for the sake, and drank a few flasks – heated up to complete the perfect alliance of food and drink – not to mention good cheer - against the freezings of the season.


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