Manba no Ken-chan: A Superb Support Act at Kagawa Dinner Tables!

 

The Tokiwa Shinmachi district of Takamatsu city, Kagawa prefecture is filled with interesting eateries that are visited by locals after work. 

In search of a certain local dish, this time we visited Shiru no Mise Ofukuro (in the foreground of the photo).

Opening the sliding door, the shop’s ambience is just as I expected. In operation for 50 years, it’s a well-known eatery that has even been introduced in guidebooks outside Japan.

On the counter I see an abundance of delicious-looking side dishes! Just as the shop’s name “Ofukuro” (one way of saying ‘mother’ in Japanese, used mostly by men) implies, each dish has a somewhat nostalgic home cooked appeal. 

Well then, I wonder if they have that one dish you can’t miss during winter in Kagawa… 

There it is! This remarkably simple dish is called “Manba no Ken-chan”. 

If I zoom in, it looks even more simple.

In season from fall throughout winter, ”Manba” is a vegetable that has been cultivated in Kagawa prefecture since ancient times. “Ken-chan” is a corruption of the word “kenchin”, which is a vegetarian dish derived from the dietary restrictions placed on Buddhist monks, where tofu or fried tofu is sautéed together with vegetables. 

This is what fresh “manba” looks like. It’s a variety of leaf mustard, and as it has a very strong alkaline flavor, it’s lightly boiled and then soaked in water for 24 hours to remove it. The leaves are then sautéed with other ingredients, and after being seasoned with bonito-flavored soy sauce, become “Manba no Ken-chan”. The slight sweetness of the Manba and the fine flavor of the mild dashi broth gradually spread through my body…

By the way, would you like to know the origin of the other part of the shop’s name “Shiru no Mise” (‘broth restaurant’) . That’s right, the eatery is most well-known for its soups!

In a bowl twice the size of a regular one, here’s some steaming hot pork miso soup made with white miso paste, a gentle flavor that warms the body. According to Kagawa prefecture’s goods promotion division, around 80% of the miso produced in the prefecture is white.

By the way, the other dishes on offer such as the deep-fried Setouchi small shrimp and fried sea bream are amazing, too! Making them even more delicious, eating them together with “Manba no Ken-chan” further brings out their flavors. 

I almost say out loud, “Yo Ken-chan! You’re an excellent support act”! 

Do come and have a taste of this excellent Kagawa dish!

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Restaurant Shiru no Mise Ofukuro

Location: Hamada Kousan Bldg 1st floor, 1-11-12 Kawaramachi, Takamatsu city, Kagawa prefecture
Open: 17:00-23:30 (Last orders at 23:00)
Closed: Sundays & National holidays
Tel: 087-831-0822

Setouchi Finder Photo-writer: Izumi Furukawa

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Izumi Furukawa

Izumi Furukawa

Izumi Furukawa Hello. My name is Izumi Furukawa and I was born in Kagawa Prefecture. Before getting married in 2012, I wrote for various magazine companies and Internet based media organizations in Tokyo. After marrying, I moved to Hiroshima and am now raising my child as well as writing stories about my fascination with this area through Setouchi Finder. Most of the articles I write are about places I visit on weekends with my family. My favorite driving course is Route 375 from Saijyo to the Miyoshi Area, and my favorite food from the Hiroshima area is Anagomeshi (from Miyajima)!!

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