It’s almost the end of autumn and with the chill in the air, it’s no surprise that we all want to eat something warm and toasty. It’s said that this winter will be extremely cold, so we’ve put together a few warming dishes that are a must-have in Tokyo. The three restaurants that we will introduce below have some common points. First of all, they have a long history and are all at least a century old. The second is that the chef’s all have a strong sense of artisanship focusing on one particular specialty dish. All three have a limited number of dishes on their menu.
1. Otako (お多幸), known for its toumeshi
Otako, whose main branch is located in Nihonbashi, opened in 1923, and specializes in Kanto-style oden. Oden is basically various ingredients like egg, daikon (raddish), potato, chikuwa (fish paste cake), konyaku, stewed in soy-flavored dashi.
The flavour of the broth has not changed since the first generation. The ingredients are stewed in a dark sauce that is perfectly balanced to be sweet and salty. Apparently, the formula for the stew is a long-kept secret. One of the favorites here is the toumeshi, a piece of (kinugoshi) silk bean curd served on top of rice boiled in tea, seasoned with sake and soy sauce.
Even though its not the most appetising in appearance, the rice and tofu have soaked in all the flavours of the intense broth.
The lunch set meal is highly recommended and at only 670 yen, it is extremely cost-effective.
2. Komakata Dozeu (駒形どぜう), known for its loach pot
When it comes to traditional established restaurants in Tokyo, this one will often make it to the list. This is not for the fainthearted. Many find the appearance of this dish appalling. Komakata Dozeu (also pronounced Komagata) is known for its hot pot filled with eel-like freshwater loaches.
The main branch is in Asakusa, and the exterior will instantly transport you to the Edo period. In fact, it was actually opened in the Edo period. It has been a famous store for more than 200 years since it was established in 1801.
Let’s look at the menu. Although there are some side dishes, the main dish is just one, the signature loach hot pot with some variations.
On being served, we were surprised to see a shallow pot full of loaches.
You add the thinly sliced green onions, available on each table, and cook them for some time with the loaches. Loach is said to be very nutritious, known in the olden days as the poor man’s eel.
The set meal comes with a loach soup that is quite thick, and it goes perfectly with rice.