Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Izakaya S&T: the Ultimate Winter Treat

Although the weather here has been uncharacteristically warm, even for CA standards, November still conjures up images of winter (at least to those of us who grew up with four distinct seasons). Additionally, because seasonality plays a critical role in Japanese cuisine, constructing an omakase menu without a sense of season is just not Japanese enough. So, it was only natural that the middle course at Izakaya S&T was the quitessential Japanese winter treat: oden.

oden
Oden is the Japanese drunkard's best friend. Oyaji, the tired middle-aged men, often found weaving the streets of Japan drunk off their butts with their neckties around their foreheads as bandanas and a take-out order of sushi for their family - which inevitably never gets eaten because they get home way after the family has gone to bed already, love oden with their sake on a cold winter night. Although I am not an oyaji myself, I have rather oyaji-like preferences, as evident by my love for the neba-neba foods. Neba-neba is the sound of being sticky in Japanese - our language has a sound for everything, even for the clouds just hanging out in the sky...

Anyway... back to the oden, the oyaji's winter best friend. Oden is a soupy, stewy dish, but one in which the goodies in the broth play an equally large role as the soup itself. I'd almost call it a Japanese bouillabaisse, because bouillabaisses are in between stew and soup in a very similar way with a focus on seafood ingredients.

Oden is made with a bonito and/or seaweed-based broth to which fish cakes and balls of fish (ha!) are slow cooked along with boiled eggs and konyaku, the firm jello-like potato cakes that are believed to be negative-calorie foods (they require more calories to digest than they offer). The flavors from the fish cakes blends with the flavors of the soup and combined, the dish becomes a perfect union of broth and goodies inside the soup. Loved by all oyaji and imitation oyaji, oden nourishes the tired spirit with its gentle warmth...

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving - have a happy Thanksgiving to all those who are celebrating - looks like I'll be heading to work in my never-ending quest to determine why nothing is working in the Lab...

2 comments:

The Papa Bear said...

Is my oyaji-ness rubbing off on you? :)

clara said...

hello! i found your site because i'm going to izakaya in san jose tomorrow for dinner (probably not this one that you went to!). anyway, i noticed in this pic that there are what appear to be noodles tied in bundles?? is that what they are and if so, where do i get/find them?