Comfort food Oden is taken to a new level at Han Restaurant, Odeon Towers. In this special introduction, Han’s Executive Chef Arakwa Seiichiro will present the Oden Kaiseki course for $160++ per person, featuring a range of appetizers, sashimi, oden, kushikatsu, grilled food and dessert. Guests looking for a complete Oden experience can also choose the Oden Omakase Menu at $120++ a person. The question then is, how can Oden – a common street and bar food – be elevated to fine dining proportions?
According to Chef Arakawa, the best Kansai Oden is guided by the three principles of 1) precise seasoning, 2) the sauce, and the 3) cooking method which will bring out the ingredient’s essential flavours. Each dish is handcrafted with seasonal ingredients specially imported from Japan. The oden soup base is prepared with a blend of kelp, dried bonito, white shoyu and mirin. Although Oden is usually enjoyed communally and in winter, Chef Arakwa aims to modernize this traditional experience by serving each ingredient in individual courses, allowing for each dish’s distinctive taste to stand out.
Starting off with some sake for the evening.
Start off with an assortment of appetizers. For the night, I had the Flatfish in Seaweed roll with sweet vinegar, Seafood Salad, and Sea Eel. Generally, the flavours were clean and fresh, with a crisp taste that will open up the palate. I particularly enjoyed the flatfish for its accompanying vinegar tartness that nicely blends with the stronger sea flavours. The sea eel was also a textural delight and worth a slow savour.
The Sashimi course saw a serving of Kijihata (Grouper), Shimi-Aji, Fatty Tuna and Pike Eel being served.
The first Oden piece to be served up was the Hokkaido Snow Crab Leg. This certainly brought back fond memories of my recent trip to Japan. The crab meat was fleshy and succulent, with its sweetness nicely paired with the light touch of white miso from the oden broth.
This next dish of Thick Fried Tofu with Inaka Miso was certainly a delight through and through. Kyoto tofu is served up in this sitting, and it certainly is luxurious to slowly go through the ingredient’s delicate firmness. While the tofu on its own is already flavourful, the topping of Inaka miso (red miso) brought out the tofu’s hearty intricacies a notch further with occasional bursts of sweet saltiness.
Guests who enjoy a good serving of pork belly will go for the Simmered Pork with Ankake Sauce. Prepped with ginger, garlic and spring onion, these portions of pork belly are almost a melt-in-the-mouth delicacy. The thick, viscous ankake sauce is a savoury treat and the touch of mustard by the side cuts through any heavy flavours.
I also relished in the serving of Fried Beancurd Skin and the side of Fish Burdock Cake. The fried beancurd skin is perhaps the best Oden dish for me as it simply soaks in all the wonderful flavours from the heady broth. Sweet, savoury and a sense of warm comfort is all you can possibly imagine the moment you bite into the tender and juicy wrappings of beancurd skin.
Next up on the Oden course was a serving of Boiled Radish with Sweet White Miso and Konjac Jelly with Inaka Miso. The different miso pastes are specially paired with each ingredient’s flavour profile. While the Inaka miso is already tasty, its sharper presentation is best suited for the more grounded flavours from the konjac jelly. The radish’s complementary pairing of white miso is also a good call as its distinct, creamy sweetness is perhaps best for the more neutral and lighter tasting radish.
This portion of Cabbage Roll with Minced Beef and Pork was a juicy delight through and through. The flavours of pork and beef were nicely melded together, lightly carried by the cabbage’s sweetness. What made this dish even more unique was the side of chef’s homemade tomato sauce that transformed this unassuming dish into something closer to a hamburger.
Sardine Ball with Yuzu Chilli Paste – fishy, and perhaps an acquired taste.
The Kaiseki does not end with the Oden. Up next was a serving of Grilled Gindara. This picture needs no further description. The flavours are as good as the picture suggests.
Palate cleanser of Clams with Saikyo Miso and Mustard
Within this Kaiseki set menu, guests will also get to tuck in to a selection of the restaurant’s kushikatsu specialty. For the night, I had the Angel Prawn, Hotate and the Cherry Tomato with Cream Cheese stuffing.
Highly recommend going for the Hotate Kushikatsu. Tender, sweet and juicy. Not what you’d expect from deep fried seafood on a stick.
This portion of deep fried cherry tomato with cream cheese stuffing was a very fanciful play on both texture and flavour. A good crisp crunch from the batter, followed by a tender burst of sweet, sour and creamy interior. Enjoyable and definitely worth a second order.
Choice of Udon or Ochazuke
End off the entire kaiseki with a portion of Shizuoka Melon and peach. Japanese fruits are always a delight to indulge in.
The Oden Kaiseki dinner at Han Japanese Restaurant was certainly an interesting one. While this is probably my first time having Oden in Singapore, it certainly showed me elements of how the traditional Japanese street cuisine can be brought up to fine dining standards and prices. Generally, the dishes were good and chef’s thoughtful choice of ingredients and complementary sauces reflect well. Still, for $160++ per pax, this Oden Kaiseki Course is certainly targeted at those who enjoy the exclusivity, the specially imported produce and the chef’s skill. But for those who want a good introduction to this popular Japanese comfort food, it is probably best to still head to Japan during winter and possibly partake in some at an izakaya or the convenient mart.
Thank you HAN for the invitation.
|331 North Bridge Road
Contact: 6336 2466
Lunch 12 to 3pm
Dinner 6pm to 11pm
Oden Kaiseki at $160++