Start with the Basics – Kyoto’s Essential Oden Restaurants
The menu is entirely written on the wall in Chinese kanji characters, and Japanese people can't even read some of it. So, to order, take a look inside the hotpot and just point to what you want. At Takocho, you'll see classic Kyoto oden ingredients, like yuba tofu skin and hirosu deep-fried tofu mixed with thinly sliced vegetables, neatly lining the inside of the hotpot.
Below are our recommended dishes!
Octopus is a popular menu item, so depending on the time you go, it might be sold out. If you're adamant about trying it, we recommend ordering it as soon as you're done ordering your drink. *note that it's not in the hotpot, so you won't know if it's available until you ask. Also, the things behind the octopus are called takara bukuro, meaning bag of treasure. Inside the fried tofu pouches is mochi, of which Takocho has mixed various seasonal vegetables in to. So bite in and see if you can't figure out what kind of "treasure" lies inside.
— Because it tastes like shrimp? Because shrimp eat it? —
The answer is because the end arches up like the tail of a shrimp. This is also why it's more commonly translated as shrimp shaped taro. Bite into it and you'll be met with the coupled smooth, potato-like texture of the taro with the flavors of the oden's dashi stock. This combination is further backed by the naturally robust flavors of the taro root.
Unfortunately, the prices at Takocho vary depending on the time and aren’t displayed anywhere. Still, you should be alright if you assume one dish will be around ￥1,000.
(When we went, three dishes and a small beer came to just under ￥5,000)
Sitting inside a multi-tenant building and supporting only 20 at a time, this hideout like restaurant flips the image of oden as food for the masses on its head with its fine-dining approach to the Japanese classic. Uneno offers a huge selection of oden dishes, including Kyoto classics like homemade hirosu fried-tofu balls with sliced vegetables in addition to western-style ingredients like zucchini, shaved ham and rolled cabbage.
After ordering, you will be served a bowl of dashi, however, you can't drink it just yet.
Why? Because this dashi is a special kind that's meant to accompany the oden dishes to come. This generous offering of two separate dashi stocks, one for the hotpot and one for eating, can be attributed to their origins as a dashi shop. Below are our recommended dishes!
Additionally, the added peppery punch gives this dish the ultimate Italy meets Japan feel. This dish is perfect for finishing your meal, or if you're really hungry and want something to fill the gaps between orders.
The prices of the oden at Uneno also aren’t displayed anywhere and vary with the time. However, around ￥5,000 per person should more than suffice to fill you up (dishes are between ￥300 to ￥900).
Tsukitokage also has several other ingredients, including yuba tofu skin and Japanese mugwort cakes, which go well with the flavors of the Kyoto style bonito flake and kelp dashi, so definitely give them a try too!