HAN Japanese Restaurant @ Odeon Towers Introduces Oden Kaiseki Menu
Since HAN’s launch three years ago, the restaurant has made a name for itself as one of the few places specializing in Naniwa (‘old’ Osaka) cuisine and Kushikatsu. Recently, HAN has introduced another new Japanese dining experience- Oden Kaiseki.
It’s difficult to understand Oden initially. Because most of the Japanese restaurants in Singapore do not offer Oden in such a detailed manner like HAN. Plus, Oden isn’t the famous kind of Japanese food that people would go for. Everything that comes out is hot, and most of it is pretty heavy on the protein. So, it’s really known as a winter food.
So what is Oden? This Japanese stew is traditionally served in a pot of light dashi and a mixture of 4-5 ingredients that include boiled eggs, fish cake and daikon. HAN has chosen to serve Kansai-style Oden, native to the southern-central region of Japan’s main island of Honshu. This region spans the prefectures of Osaka, Kyoto and Okayama and uses a light shoyu in their Oden. HAN modernizes and enhances its guests’ experience by serving each ingredient in individual courses, allowing for the distinctive taste of each component to be highlighted in every dish.
I was invited to try HAN Oden Kaiseki Course ($160++ per pax) which includes an Appetizer, Sashimi, 7 kinds of Oden, 1 Grilled course, 1 Fried course, a choice between Udon or Ochazuke and Dessert. My appetizer consisting of Amago (river fish), Sazae (turban shell) and Edamame); and a plate of Sashimi filled with Kijihata(Hong Kong Grouper), Abalone, Tuna and Pike Eel.
Here comes the Oden! *drum rolls* At HAN, the Oden is cooked and prepared right before us at the dining counter so we can enjoy the delicious sights and smells of the ingredients. Each dish is handcrafted before being placed into simmering Oden pots and cooked for a precise length of time.
Executive Chef Seiichiro Arakawa uses the finest seasonal ingredients from Japan and incorporates Kaiseki techniques inspired by his training at Kitcho, a Michelin star traditional Ryotei in Kyoto. His Oden soup base is prepared with a blend of kelp, dried bonito, white shoyu and mirin while a selection of sauces and condiments are chosen to complement and enhance each dish. Chef Arakawa said that he uses a white shoyu as it yields an even clearer broth and sweeter taste.
7 types of Oden are served during the course. We begin with a huge and fleshy Snow Crab Leg from Hokkaido. According to Chef Arakawa, the best Osaka Oden is guided by three principles. The first is to ensure precise seasoning so that the ingredient itself has a specific taste. The second requires the dish to be accompanied by a sauce or condiment such as miso or mustard. Lastly, cooking must be used as a vehicle to bring out the natural and purest taste of each ingredient used.
An interesting highlight of the Oden Kaiseki Course includes Thick Fried Tofu with Inaka Miso is the opposite from fried beancurd skin. Here, you get the firm texture and hearty flavour of the tofu. The same Inaka Miso was also added to Konjac Jelly with Inaka Miso. Despite having little taste, konnyaku is prized for it’s texture, and the Inaka miso made up for it. Just a fun fact, I was told that konjac lowers choresterol level and helps in weight reduction as it expands in the tummy much more and makes you feel full. Not sure how true is it lah!
We were also served Japanese Steamed Dumpling and Fried Beancurd Skin with Mustard. Nothing much to shout about for the dumpling but the fried beancurd skin has layers and layers of beancurd skin wrapped together. It soaks up all the flavours of the broth. My favourite? It’s the shrimp cake oden because you get a pretty red dome of real shrimp meat packed gently together and served with a smidgeon of yuzu kosho (chilli pepper and yuzu zest paste). It’s a pleasure savouring it as you get the crunch and juicy texture of the shrimp. There is also the Boiled Egg with Mustard. Of course,not all the same dishes will be served as they rotate and may use seasonal ingredients.
After a palate cleanser, we moved on to the grilled kanpachi with sweet, savoury and smoky flavours all combined. What got me more interested is their Fried course (Kushikatsu), which is the restaurant’s specialty. For that night, I had the Angel Prawn, Scallop, Cherry Tomato with Cream Cheese. I was told that the angel prawn uses fresh water prawns which give the sweet and firm meat. I love the breaded cherry tomato. So creamy and juicy! We ended the meal with a choice of Udon or Ochazuke (Plum, Seaweed, Wasabi); and Shizuoka melon and peach for dessert.
It’s an interesting experience trying a full Oden Kaiseki Course. You can also savour Oden as it is typically enjoyed with an exquisite selection of hot and cold sake
or an iced cold beer available at HAN.
HAN Japanese Restaurant
Address: 331 North Bridge Road#01-04, Odeon Towers, Singapore 188720
Tel: 6336 2466
Opening Hours: Lunch 12 to 3pm; Dinner 6pm to 11pm
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