Ever since the pandemic put a dampener on how often we visit izakaya drinking taverns, we’ve been finding ways to recreate the izakaya experience at home with newfound cooking gadgets. After trying out the granite plate cooker and the yakitori grill, we’re now welcoming a new gadget into our kitchen, and it’s called the Oden Nabe Furusato Noren.
The name of this oden nabe, or oden pot, conjures up images of dining out in a rural hometown as furusato translates to “hometown” and the noren refers to the small curtain often seen outside Japanese restaurants.
▼ According to the box it comes in, this is a five-in-one gadget that’s able to “simmer”, “steam”, “boil”, “grill”, and “fry” your favorite foods.
Despite being an all-rounder, this pot is primarily designed to make oden, cooking the ingredients until tender and keeping them nice and hot until you’re ready to eat them, closely resembling the pots used at izakaya, festival stalls, and convenience stores like 7-Eleven.
▼ For reference, this is a typical oden setup in Japan.
The oden pot we purchased has become a popular product online, receiving great reviews from a large number of satisfied customers, who’ve left comments like:
“I use it every year during oden season!”
“It’s easy to wash because the pot can be removed from the wooden frame.”
“The look and performance are great!”
However, there have been some disappointed reviews in the mix as well, voicing complaints like:
“It warped straight away.”
“There was a problem with the inner coating of the pot.”
So…how would the pot work out for us? We decided to find out by putting it to use straight away.
Our first impressions were great, as the pot had a beautiful traditional look, but we could see that the aluminium partitions were a little flimsy.
Its full capacity is 6.5 liters, which makes it suitable for serving around four to five people, and the temperature is controlled with a dial on the side.
After setting it up, it was time to fill the pot with our favorite oden ingredients, and as it began to boil, we lifted the lid and immediately began to salivate at the look and aroma of it all.
Once it was cooked, we cracked open the lid on our special can of Super Dry draft beer and took a seat at the table to enjoy this very special dining experience.
It felt absolutely indulgent to pick and choose from the pot, double-dipping our chopsticks with wanton abandon for this solo meal. Every morsel tasted absolutely delicious, and much nicer than any oden we’ve ever made at home, with the visual appeal working to enhance the flavor.
However, we couldn’t help but notice that the wooden lid and outer frame weren’t as strong as they looked, and if we continued to use them as is, it would only be a matter of time before they became warped and unsightly.
▼ So we decided to take action by sandpapering the surface of each piece and adding a coat of wood varnish for added strength and durability.
After applying the varnish, a film of resin forms on the surface, which protects the wood from stains, dirt, and most importantly, moisture, helping to prevent cracking and warping.
As a result, the wooden lid and outer frame were now much stronger than they were when purchased.
▼ Plus, the whole setup now looked a lot nicer too.
As for the inner coating, we didn’t have any problems there, but one thing that did annoy us was the fact that it was difficult to control the temperature — every time we tried to get it to a moderate, medium level of heat, it refused, keeping everything cooking on high heat.
All-in-all, though, we were immensely satisfied with the oden pot, using it a number of times throughout the week, and to cook other meals like the nabe-style noodle dish above.
At 4,564 yen, the oden pot is well worth the small investment.
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