Taro's Japan Tour Adventures: Oden Breakfast
Quick, Easy, & Delicious!
Culture shock has always been a unique concept to me. On one hand, it makes complete sense that a person who's never been to a new country has a hard time adjusting to a new culture. On the other, it's a bit egocentric or narcissistic to me when I hear someone going to another country only to complain about the differences. In short, I understand why people have a hard time in a new country on vacation, to a certain, acceptable extent.
For the most part, culture shock makes sense and after explaining things with our tour guide, the group usually gets it. Still, most of my tour groups just can't get over the fact that Japanese convenience stores not sell fresh foods every day, but to really go all out at a convenience store for a meal. Yes, I know the convenience stores in the United States may not paint the best picture of fresh meals and healthy options. Big Gulp's and other massive servings of sugary drinks probably don't help my case. But even with all the negative images we may hold towards American convenience stores, they don't hold a candle to the stops in Japan. For today's recommendation next time you're in a Japanese convenience store: Oden.
What's Oden? Oden is a popular Japanese comfort food, similar to hot pot. Ingredients are heated in a light, soy-sauce flavored broth and served as a winter favorite. Some convenience stores will have self-serve oden options close to the registers next to the fried chicken and other offerings. Do yourself a favor and don't skip out on the hot-pot.
For most convenience stores, the oden section is usually self-serve. Guests can select from trays to scoop up their favorite ingredients. While some Japanese foods may be a bit much for fist-timers, oden is usually filled with tender bits of meat and sausage American travelers are sure to enjoy. While I'm not the biggest oden fan, convenience store oden is a great option for some quick, tender proteins and savory veggies on a cold morning. I highly recommend the sausage bits and daikon radish for a mild, enjoyable first-time.
I do have one tip of advice for anyone on a small-group tour or vacation in Japan when serving yourself oden from a convenience store. Try to be a little mindful about the people waiting around you. I once waited behind a lady who decided she wanted pretty much everything the store had. If you do take a lot or plan to grab for your family, maybe let a person before you grab their share or give the clerks a heads up so they can restock. There's nothing worse than looking forward to a delicious meal, only to have it sold out before you get there.