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HAN -Cuisine of Naniwa @ Odeon Towers

~Invited Session~

I love my japanese food with a vengeance - infact, there are so many regions within Japan that offers good food that it is almost impossible to try all cuisines from different regions unless I only went to Japan for the next decade or so.

Oden as I know it is street food, a comforting one no less but these are usually eaten most during winter and I remember that one winter holiday in Japan that I enjoyed oden at a combini. Even that was so divine.

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HAN -Cuisine of Naniwa has chosen to modernize and enhance this experience of enjoying Oden by serving each ingredient in individual courses, allowing for the distinctive taste of each component to be highlighted in every dish.

Executive Chef Seiichiro Arakawa’s Oden reflects the style of cooking in Kamigata, Osaka. His version uses a white shoyu which yields an even clearer broth and sweeter taste. He combines the finest seasonal ingredients from Japan in his dishes with Kaiseki techniques inspired by his training at Kitcho, a Michelin star traditional Ryotei in Kyoto.

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Each dish is handcrafted before being placed into simmering Oden pots and cooked for a precise length of time. Condiments are carefully chosen to complement and enhance each dish.

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Appetizer 
Prawn and Soft Dried Tofu Sandwich, Sea Whelk in Wasabi Sauce, Kani Miso Pate on Cracker

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The trio of appetizers were complex morsels starting with a marshmellow-lookalike tofu studded with prawns, sea whelk and a crab miso butter paste on cracker. 

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First, we had to choose our glasses. They were all so pretty and I had a hard time picking one out.

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Happy tipples.

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Sashimi 
Saba, Kanpachi, Scallop, Tuna and Pike Eel 

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I always look forward to the sashimi platter, one that showcases fish that I usually do not encounter very often and possibly the only things I eat raw with such a passion - pike eel, hamachi, saba, scallop and amberjack. Next to the rainbow, these are my favourite colours on a plate. 

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Simmered Pork with Ankake Sauce

The marbling of the pork could rival that of a wagyu beef and it was absolutely melt in the mouth. The ankake sauce had a starchy texture with a rich broth.

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Thick Fried Tofu with Inaka Miso

I find it hard to believe this is tofu, miles away from the rougher versions that I have eaten infact. The broth was worth a course on its own.

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Horse mackerel and sardine fish ball 
Yuzu, Green Chillis

The complexicity of what I know as a fish ball is overwhelming, horse mackerel is blended and combined with sardine to reduce the fishyness. The cooked fish ball had none of that fishyness though the texture is acquired. Call it mushy but I rather eat fresh fish balls like these than those loaded with flour. 

By the way, that yuzu green chilli condiment is to-die-for - extremely fragrant and piquant. 

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Fried Beancurd Skin
Mustard

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Taking on rolling of popiah and wraps already puts me in a fix, the intricate handiwork behind this handrolled beancurd skin is definitely one of those patience testing tasks. A single bite revels how tight the roll is and paired with mustard, tipping over the realms of umai on this simple one. 

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Boiled Radish with Sweet White Miso
Daikon, Yam Jelly

Staples in oden yet these simple ingredients taste so good - the Japanese lady seated near us is a regular who dines there three times a week muses - Japanese ingredients so good! I cannot agree more, a daikon so sweet is a first.

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HAN’s Cabbage Roll with Minced Beef and Pork
Tomato Sauce

Another time consuming handicraft - the flesh of the wintermelon is sliced into strips and dried for two days before they are tied into perfect ribbon bows to seal the carefully wrapped cabbage rolls stuffed with a hamburg mince. 

The dedication paid to the craft and the way the chefs strive for perfection is astounding. Homemade goodness till the very last drop and out of respect, I savoured instead of slurped.  

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Hokkaido Snow Crab Leg

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The last time I did a pass on a SGD 200 Hokkaido Crab, I berated myself to no end thereafter. Possibly the easiest crustacean to eat without any of the clanging of metal and cracking of shells needed - none of the barbarism involved in eating an elegant crab leg. With a tug, the chunk of heaven is released and the several seconds that follows after is divine. 

The meat gets shredded so easily and I wonder if artificial crab sticks looked to the snow crab for inspiration - it does look and feel like the real thing but that sweetness is unrivalled. Paired with a simple ginger broth sprinkled with chives, I have almost nothing else to say but we could have reached the pinnacle of deliciousity here. 

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Grilled Pork  Loin


When I thought the magic was done with pork belly, here comes the pork loin that causes a brand new fireworks in the mouth - grilled and served with a salad and lime.

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Palate Cleanser 
Jellyfish with Sake Lees

Never had jellyfish as a palate cleanser and joyful joyful were my senses.

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Angel Prawn

Fresh water bred prawns according to Chef, these are most breeds of prawns attempted the meat is firm and naturally sweet. The obasan says Meidi-ya retails these for $30 a tiny packet and I gasp. A price to pay for premium and surprisingly, having it breaded and fried still made this a delightful delicacy.  

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Tomato, Cheese

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The second skewer of breaded tomato stuffed with cheese was just so good - I never had a fried tomato tasting this awesome possum. 

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Scallop

No ordinary scallop, this is breaded but still has traces of the gravy within that fried pocket - ingenious I say. 

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Ochazuke
Plum, Wasabi, Seaweed 

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At this juncture, I was so glad dinner was going to end - so stuffed, this was beginning to feel like an imperial feast. A soothing porridge with a choice of plum, wasabi or seaweed toppings. I prefer wasabi of the three for that mild nose tingling punchy notes. 

And in true Japanese style, take a deep whiff of the rice dish before partaking of slurps. Nothing fancy just rice, a hearty broth and toppings. Food from the heart, you bet. 

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Shizuoka Melon, Peach 

This left a lasting impression of fruits so sweet, since the Yubari Melon I have never viewed a melon in the same regard again. That kind of juiciness is insane, almost as if, if I tried to talk between mouthfuls I may end up with unglamourous spurts of juice. 

Well why would I when these slices were so precious and for the last time, so sweet. 

The following items are not part of the HAN Oden Kaiseki.

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Beancurd wrapped around mochi
Mustard

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Looking just like a moneybag, the surprise revealed that thin layer of beancurd skin is a gooey starchy and so very delectable mochi. I hardly adore savoury mochi with the same vengeance as sweet but this, took the cake for best mochi surprise ever.

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They do great sushi too! There is absolutely nothing in this world that can ever beat fresh fish on rice.

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Eggplant

We were nudged on to try egg plant raw, in all my years of eating brinjal as we locals fondly call it has been with sambal, black sauce or at best stuffed with a fishpaste in my yong tau foo bowl. All too pedestrian until this seasonal import from Japan comes and blows me away - a ridiculously juicy eggplant without any trace of greenness or rawness in it. Meidi-ya has them for a full song and more, the obasan once again interjects.

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Fine, I do get the fuss and pomp about Japanese produce. 

The value of the kaiseki was incredible, the seasonal ingredients used especially provided an experience. It then dawned on me that a true measure of a chef is the ability to transform basic ingredients into fine dining. Chef Arakawa, it has been an immense honour having you cook and drink with us. The items on Oden Kaiseki Course vary weekly and are based on Chef's selection.

The experience is available at $160++. 

HAN -Cuisine of Naniwa
Odeon Towers

A foodie born to eat, shop and travel. Forced to work.

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