Tokyo Food Page
Odako/
Ueno: Oden
₯3836-4906
€Data
Odako is a place
where oden finally
gets the respect it
deserves, presented
with top-grade
small-producer sake.
Here, oden is pre-
pared fresh daily in
a Kansai-style
broth, which is not
nearly as strong-
tasting or as salty
as the Kanto-style
common to Tokyo. The
pieces are simmered
long in this light,
savory broth to
bring out the flavor
of the ingredients,
rather than hammer-
ing them with in-
creasingly concen-
trated levels of soy
sauce as the broth
cooks down.

Junmaishu like
Ichinokura (500 yen)
from Iwate and Den-
shu (700 yen) from
Aomori grace the
menu. But the real
treats are to be
discovered by asking
your server about
the "special" sakes
of the day not
listed on the menu.
On a recent visit
this turned up Shi-
taizumi (800 yen), a
tokubetsu honjozo
bottled just two
days previous that
exhibited the sort
of crackling flavor
that makes truly
fresh sake such a
treat.

Of course, the oden
is no less glorious,
and the prices no
less impressive.
They start at 100
yen for such basic
items as konnyaku
(jellied devil's
tongue root), boiled
whole egg, an in-
credibly soft savory
konbu seaweed, and
hanpen fishcake,
with its marshmallow
texture that really
soaks up the broth
to allow you to
taste how skillfully
it's been prepared.

Moving up the scale
are the 200-yen
fried tofu (atsu-
age), fukubukuro (a
bag of tofu skin
filled with chopped
vegetables), and a
peppery ganmodoki
tofu cake. A sur-
prising treat here
is the 300-yen ho-
tate (scallop),
which to my surprise
was very lightly
cooked, leaving it
juicy and tender. It
was only outdone by
a heavenly sheet of
silky yuba (skin of
soy milk), which at
450 yen was one of
the most expensive
oden items.

In addition to a
very complete as-
sortment of oden,
Odako serves some
offbeat izakaya
dishes, such as
fresh okra with
ginger bud, kombu
seaweed with herring
roe, and seaweed
with jellyfish
strips (all 500
yen).

Low prices like
these for such great
food and sake have
made Odako quite
popular, and to
secure a seat it is
best to arrive be-
fore 6:30pm. Though
there are counters
and seats on two
floors, the best
action is at the
first-floor counter,
embedded in which is
the large octagonal
oden cauldron (for
want of a better
word), where you can
see what your selec-
tions will be.
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Taito-ku, Ueno 2-
3-1.  Open 5:30-
11pm daily.
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