Saturday, January 15, 2011

Konokara, Ginza ( こなから 銀座店)

As soon as I saw the hyotan, I said "Aw hell, it's Konakara." Not that this was a bad thing; there are only a few branches, and in fact the one I've been to (Shin Maru) is a branch as well, while the original store is small and popular - full when I've called, enforced time limits, etc. They make some awful good oden, the kind that will convince you (if you needed convincing) that there's good oden, not just foul-smelling blobs in warm water by the counter at 7-11.

[Aside: I saw one of those TV shows last night, the kind where a group of comedians is locked in a room with a menu from a chain restaurant and have to pick the 10 most popular items from it to get out. They order one item at a time, eat it, then find out if it was top-10 or not. Sometimes they go until 5 AM ordering the wrong things, being stuffed. This one was Family Mart oden. Yuck. I don't care how many times they said it was great, yuck. And yuck to the promotional angle too. But interesting to learn a little about regional preferences - they had comedians from all different regions, so they could say what was typical oden in, say, Hokkaido vs. Kyushu. AND, Famima makes 7 different soups nationwide, to match the regional taste. I'm still not rushing to try it.]

We were killing a little time before stopping by Rocky Top to see Cabin 18 and Instead of Net. Right across the street was the beckoning red lantern...of a Taiwanese place. But in the alley behind that was something that said 'oden', and I figured that was a casual way to have a snack. Not exactly - Konara is as luxurious as oden is likely to get. Be warned if you go that there's a solid charge, and things are a bit Ginza-priced, and that's my punishment for not just eating menchikatsu at Rocky Top.

There's not much punishment in eating their oden though.

Aside from oden, we had a few brief snacks. The starter was a good steamed custard, some octopus and tuna in vinegar miso, and a strange block of sesame jelly (not gomadofu; honestly more like goma nikogori). Bacon is good any time. I left out the grilled nagaimo (and wish I had just made it at home).

The oden are extraordinary though. Left is a sardine meatball and a chicken meatball, both heavily black-sesame'd, and a shirataki (they call it ito-konnyaku here). On the right is a terrific ganmo, a huge leaf of yuba, and the most delicious rice scrotum I've ever tasted; seemed like the mochi was mixed with cheese, it was so gooey and awesome. I do love a good rice scrotum, and I hope you do too.

Hmmm, this is a good weekend for Otafuku...