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Otafuku @ Iriya, Tokyo

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I was keen to try oden in Japan since the visit to Han Naniwa and since it was winter, why not give oden a chance? Oden in wintry Japan is the equivalent of our hotpot and I find it almost interesting the price point of it - from the cheapest at combini and pricier at places at Otafuku. Almost 100 years in operations, they are a household name and have kept tens of thousands of bellies warm since the day they started.

Enter into a charming Japanese garden and access the restaurant at the end of it. If I hadn't known this would have been just another drinking place from the outside. 


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Gotta love these handwritten menu slips and calligraphy pieces.

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There lies the cauldron of bubbling broth, since the days of post World War Two it has been bubbling since. 

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Warm towels handed and then an English menu.

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I wish I have a clearer picture of the old server who conversed only in Japanese and entertained the regulars with such ease.

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One drink per person policy saw me ordering my first soda in Japan. This was old school enough to be served in a glass bottle and a glass with Otafuku's logo. Sweet and very refreshing, this was 7-up probably in the earlier years, less on fizz and very tasty.

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Sake, just because it is winter and we are in Japan. Cold and hot sake is available and most Japanese opted for hot sake.

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70 year old broth, so comforting with all the goodness extracted from the ingredients that have been simmering every other night for the last seven decades. I would have been full from just drinking cups of these - such is simple bliss.

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Ala carte orders are made on the spot and the food is delivered soon enough - no further cooking required since everything on the oden menu is available.

Ebi Bakudan (JPY 500)
Shrimp Ball

Handmade shrimp ball - think lumpy texture and bounce.

Kyabetsu Maki (JPY 500)
Cabbage Roll 

I love my cabbages and this stuffed with minced meat was a real treat. I can easily wallop a plate of these without guilt.

Uzura Maki (JPY 320)
Quail Egg Roll

Fried fish cake with a quail egg embedded, this fish cake was more mass produced in taste than the handmade shrimp ball. That said, this still had a lovely bite to it.

Tamanegi (JPY 100)
Small Onion

Small but tasty sweet bulb.

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Yuba (JPY 200)
Tofu Crepe

Handrolled tofu sheets makes this a more refined version of tau kee.

Yaki Tofu (JPY 200)
Baked Tofu

I loved the charred edges and double cooking - grill then simmer. Plenty of flavour here!

Daikon (JPY 300)

Radish and broth, two simple ingredients yet so tasty. The juicy daikon is perhaps the least attractive in the pot but so so so tasty!

Hotate (JPY 300)
Scallop

To think I shun boiled scallops, these babies lost out in their chewy bite but retained so much flavour.

Negi Maguro (JPY 400)
Onion and Tuna

Broiled tuna and onion, as unlikely as it sounds made a delicious combination. Of course this will not compare to the grilled version so I say stick to the daikon, tofu and fish balls.

Fukuro (JPY 300)
Vegetable sack

This was the most complex item on the menu - beancurd sack stuffed with vegetables and melted mochi. This could be a meal on its own, and savoury rice cake brings on a different world of satisfaction.

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Ii Dako (JPY 300)
Baby Octopus

Tako (JPY 500)
Octopus

Both were delightful with the baby octopus more tender.

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I never quite imagined oden to be food accompanying sake, or the equivalent of bar food except there is none of the deepfrying involved. It was odd that we seemed to order the most for the short hour that we were there whilst every one else was contented with hot sake, two pieces to share and chat the night away.

Delicious hearty fare and truly, oden is godsent in winter. 

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The Japanese hospitality is none to other, and I wish I mastered my Japanese to be able to converse with the servers. Despite the language barrier, it was a lovely visit with happy bellies. Our server pressed these two gifts as we left - Otafuku bento scarves. I suppose these are cute enough for me to start making bentos perhaps.

Otafuku
1 Chome-6-2 Senzoku, Taito

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

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