Hidden underneath Cubé, the modern Japanese tapas and sushi restaurant in Mayfair, is a concept never seen before in London: The Oden Bar. Considered one of the oldest fast foods in Japan, oden refers to a one-pot dish with various ingredients stewed in a dashi broth. We decided to pay the restaurant a visit and get a taste of what oden is all about.
We’re welcomed downstairs by the the Cubé bar manager, Reo. With only 12 seats, the atmosphere is intimate and each guest receives a truly personal experience. We are asked to choose from one of three infused whisky highballs. I decide on the apple, cinnamon, and pink pepper infusion, whilst my guest, Danielle, chooses the raspberry, blueberry, lemongrass, and Earl Grey version. The Nikka brand was founded by Masataka Taketsuru, known as the Father of Japanese Whisky, who studied the art of whisky making in Scotland.
Reo took time to tell us about the oden tradition and how each home or restaurant will always have their own take on it. The Cubé version has a mix of different seafood, radishes, Japanese sausage, boiled eggs, and fishcakes. It’s served with a side of very strong house-made mustard. Reo instructs us to try each ingredient on its own before trying it with the mustard. A word of caution: listen to Reo when he says the mustard is strong! However, when used properly, we find that it brings a really nice punch to the otherwise subtle dish.
Staying true to its purpose as a Winter dish, the oden is warm and comforting. It embodies the traditional Japanese way of cooking where each ingredient is allowed to shine without any bells and whistles. Reo tells us that each ingredient is cooked separately for hours before they are eventually brought together in the soy-flavoured dashi broth. The whisky highballs tasted fresh, fragrant, and were easy on the palate. They paired beautifully with the oden as the infused flavours played nicely with the soy and dashi in the broth. Reo gives us a taster of a sake with dashi mixed in to show us just how versatile the popular Japanese stock is. We finish our meal with a few glasses of sparkling Mio sake, which is made with Japanese rice, fresh water, and a little carbonation. The fruity flavours in the drink are refreshing and help cleanse the palate.
If you’re looking for a hidden bar that has one of the best Japanese whisky collections in London and boasts a unique dish that is certain to warm your stomach, pay a visit to Cubé in Mayfair. Make sure you tell Reo we sent you.
The Oden Bar at Cubé is open until the end of May.