Since the reopening of Himeji Castle following extensive restoration, the area around Himeji station seems always to be bustling with people. If you’ve come all the way here to do some sightseeing, it’s fun to try the local gourmet, right?
For this we present, oden (various ingredients stewed in dashi, a Japanese broth.)
Hmm! “Enjoy Himeji oden with ginger soy sauce”, it says!!
This unique way of pouring ginger soy sauce on oden, or dipping oden in it, is said to have begun in the early Showa era (mid-1920s), but is only common practice in Hyogo prefecture with Himeji at the center.
Without further ado, I placed my order at Himeji Shokudou, a shop near the station.
Starting from the left, going clockwise is: thick fried tofu, potato, daikon radish, chikuwa (a tube-shaped fishcake), and hiraten (a deep-fried fish paste cake).
Beneath the ingredients you can see the deep color of soy sauce, but upon trying it you find that it isn’t too strong. On the contrary, oden not soaked in soy sauce is actually very lightly seasoned. Breaking the hot potato into pieces and soaking it in the sweet soy sauce, the spiciness of the ginger gives it a refreshing flavor, one that could become addictive!
I visited another shop…
Owned by Nadagiku Shuzo, a Himeji based brewery, Shusentei Nadagiku Kappatei is a shop centered on oden. If I were to describe the home-cooked flavor of Himeji, this would be it.
They’ve been serving oden with ginger soy sauce since 1958.
I went for the popular lunchtime oden, where you can choose from the “black” and “white” oden skewers!
While “black” oden is seasoned with ginger soy sauce, “white” is topped with a sauce filled with the brewery’s prided sake lees. It’s a good-value meal that includes a small side dish, sake lees soup and rice.
Starting from the top of the skewer, it has beef tendon, an egg, thick fried tofu, konnyaku, and deep fried burdock. Beef tendon is typically used in the Kansai area, and apparently it’s essential in oden as a part of the broth especially in Himeji. It nicely chewy and delicious!
The “black” oden has an abundance of ginger on the ingredients, enough for you to see it, and together with the set meal’s sake lees soup, it will warm you up from the inside.
Himeji is known for its paste products such as kamaboko (steamed fish paste). Together with Tatsuno, a city that adjoins Himeji to the west, soy sauce has been produced in the area since ancient times, and apparently ginger has been farmed in the southern part of Himeji since the beginning of the Showa era (mid-1920s).
It may be that a local oden so rich in flavor was created to match the character of the area! It’s a gourmet dish that’s fun to try a little bit at a time at various shops.
Shusentei Nadagiku Kappatei
Location: 58 Higashiekimae-cho, Himeji city, Hyogo prefecture
Open: Weekdays & Sat 11:30-21:00 (Last orders at 20:30)
Sun & National holidays 11:30-20:00 (Last orders at 20:00)
Closed: Check the shop’s homepage
Location: Sanyo Himeji Kokashita C-3 , 5 Minami-cho, Himeji city. Hyogo prefecture
Open: Mon-Fri 11:00-15:00 (Last orders at 14:30) & 17:00-23:00 (Last orders at 22:30), Sat & National holidays 11:00-15:00 (Last orders at 14:30) & 17:00-21:00 (Last orders at 20:30)
Setouchi Finder Photo-writer: Madoka Hori
Madoka Hori / Photo-writer Entrepreneurial translator/writer living in Hyogo. As a licensed English tour guide, she occasionally takes tourists to beautiful destinations such as Kobe, Himeji, Okayama, Kyoto, and Osaka and her clients have never got lost so far. On Setouchi Finder, as one of the original team members, she enjoys taking photos and sharing her favorite hidden gems. Private Photo Blog http://riderv328.tumblr.com Twitter https://twitter.com/Riderv328
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