A lady working at a tourist office in Kanazawa recommended that we try some oden (おでん) as it is a popular local dish. She suggested that we go to Oden Miyuki Honten おでん居酒屋 三幸 and told us that it opens at 5pm.

While walking over, we debated about whether it would be appropriate to present ourselves at a restaurant right when it opens its doors.

AB: Are you sure they will let us order at 5pm? Who serves dinner at this time?
Me: Of course! The restaurant is supposed to open at five.
AB: But it’s not even five yet.
Me: Hmm, we’ll just pop by and ask if we need to make a reservation. *stomach rumbling*

Pushing aside the sliding door, we poked our heads under the noren and entered the restaurant. There were several people bustling around the kitchen counter. We were asked to return at five as they were not ready for business.

We wandered around the neighbourhood to kill time and ended up at the tranquil banks of the Sai river. The sun was starting to set. Some people were walking their dogs or cycling home after school/work.

Sai River, Kanazawa - shot with Canonet QL17 with Portra 160

Sai River, Kanazawa - shot with Canonet QL17 with Portra 160

Five o’clock finally came around! We casually made our way back to Oden Miyuki Honten in case the restaurant team was still getting ready.

After greeting the proprietors with a hearty “konbanwa” (good evening), we sat at the counter, right across the large vat of bubbling dashi that was filled to the brim with odd-shaped pieces of tofu, vegetables and assorted fish pastes on sticks.

Oden Miyuki Honten おでん居酒屋 三幸 in Kanazawa

An elderly woman, presumably the grandmother of the young man as it appeared to be a family-run restaurant, started speaking to us from across the counter.

Me: Sumimasen watashi wa nihongo ga hanasemasen (Excuse me, I don’t speak Japanese)
Oden Granny: Eeeh?!
Me: Eigo o hanasemasu ka? (Do you speak English?)
Oden Granny: Sukoshi (A little) *smiles broadly at us*

Wafts of the delicious-smelling oden arose with the steam from the simmering stew. I was getting ravenous by the second.

Oden Granny: I choose. Ok?
Me: Hai, arigato! (Yes, thank you)

Oden Miyuki Honten おでん居酒屋 三幸 in KanazawaOden Miyuki Honten おでん居酒屋 三幸 in Kanazawa

The old lady picked some items from the hot stew with chopsticks and we added a few more ingredients by pointing. She ladled out some dashi stock into the bowl before setting it in front of us. She then gave us a small dish of yellow paste and indicated that we should dip the oden in it. “Oishi (delicious), she said.

She was right. The steaming bowl of daikon, fish paste, tofu and more, was wonderful. The yellow paste turned out to be mustard and accentuated the oden.

Everything was so good that we asked for more, pointing out new items that we had not tried such as octopus, shirataki (konnyaku noodles that look like a squid) and kuruma-fu (wheat gluten).

Oden Miyuki Honten おでん居酒屋 三幸 in Kanazawa

In between eating oden and washing it down with Asahi beer, we noticed that the boys next to us had ordered fried fish cakes from the kitchen. These looked good so we pointed to their basket of satsuma-age and asked for one serving.

When the fried fish cakes arrived, the Oden Granny warned us: “Danger. Very hoto (very hot)!

Satsuma-age (fried fishcakes) @ Oden Miyuki Honten おでん居酒屋 三幸 in Kanazawa

Our hunger satisfied, we asked for the bill. As we were paying, the Oden Granny asked if we had an umbrella and opened the door to show us that it was pouring outside. We didn’t have one.

The Oden Granny pulled out an umbrella from the storeroom, thrust it into our hands and said, with a broad smile, “Present” and waved bye to us.

Katama-chi - shot with Canonet QL17 with Portra 160


Oden Miyuki Honten おでん居酒屋 三幸
Address: 1-10-3 Kata machi, 5 minutes on foot from Korinbo bus station
Tel: 076 222 6117
Opening hours: Monday-Saturday from 1700-2230
Tips: Reservations recommended, or you can be like us and be the first customers to arrive when they open for business. Grab a seat at the counter for a piece of the action, plus it is handy to be able to point what you want if you don’t speak any Japanese.

Photo notes: Some of these pictures were taken with an iPhone and edited with the VSCO Cam app. The other photos were taken with a rangefinder, Canonet QL 17, with Portra 160 film.


 

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16 replies on “Vignettes of Japan #13: “Hoto” oden on a rainy evening

  1. Small restaurants in Japan are true gems. We’ve had similar experiences in Kyoto, but I’d really love to go in a provincial town and have more of the same! Brilliant post Angelina!

    Fabrizio

  2. love these cozy eateries. I wonder if one could survive without any prior japanese lessons, well i got google translate would it help :S

    1. Me too – and I look forward to discovering more of these when I move to HK! I didn’t know any Japanese, aside from the basic greetings, when I was there. When we were in Otaru, we went into a small eatery where no one spoke English & the menu had no pictures, so we ended up pointing to what other people were having in order to order: https://angelinahue.com/2015/11/07/otaru-izakaya-hayashi/

      Since you read traditional Chinese, you have a slight advantage as you might be able to work out some of the kanji characters 😉 And of course, there’s Google Translate. When I was in Japan, I downloaded an English-Japanese iPhone app call “imiwa” which I found to be quite useful too.

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