Friday night a co-worker (also a fellow sake student) and I tried a new oden place, Shiki no Oden, near Shinbashi. The shop is originally from Osaka, and they've just opened the Tokyo branch in September.
In general, my vision of oden is that nasty stuff bubbling away on the counter of the 7-11 in winter, with that god-awful boiled daikon smell and octopus tentacles coming out of the pot. I figured I had an obligation to try the real stuff, though, and I'm glad I did!
The restaurant itself is just a small counter, seating 10 or so people. The different types of oden available are listed up above the counter on wooden planks, much like a sushi place. We tried tofu, atsu-age (deep-fried tofu), daikon, kinchaku (a sort of pouch made from fried tofu, filled with cellophane noodles and shiitake mushrooms in this case), clams, and mochi, all of which were very tasty. The broth used for stewing the ingredients is relatively light in flavor (the Kansai influence).
The guy who runs the place, Mishima-san, goes back many years with the owner of the sake shop where I take classes, so they mainly serve brands you can find at the shop. I had hot sake--a Jokigen junmaishu--while my friend drank a cold sake, one of Kikuhime's daiginjo.
The restaurant itself is quite attractive--light wood countertops, noren painted with pictures of radishes. The three guys behind the counter are very friendly, and Mishima-san came up and exchanged business cards with us towards the end of the evening. We got there about 9:30, and the place was full except for the two seats he'd saved for us, so I recommend calling ahead, or going late (they're open until 2am).
The bill came to 9000 yen for two, without either of us having particularly eaten or drunk much. There are no prices listed anywhere, which is a bit unnerving, but I've heard the price for an evening is around 7-8000 yen per head if you eat and drink a reasonable amount.
Given the location (address is Ginza, but it's closer to Shinbashi), it's also a bit of a sociological experience getting there--you get to see lots of mama-sans dressed in their finest kimonos, escorting their drunken customers to cabs.
Shiki no Oden