Actually, we think we need one at home too.

When you feel a chill in the air and a rumble in your stomach, one of the best ways to solve both problems is with some oden. A wintertime favorite in Japan, oden consists of various meats, vegetables, and other foods, like tofu and fish cake, stewed in a savory broth of soy and dashi soup stock.

But unfortunately for our oden-loving reporter Ikuna Kamezawa, oden is kind of hard to find this winter. Usually convenience stores offer it with self-serve pots that you pick the pieces you want out of, but many chains have suspended this service during the pandemic, and health concerns also mean fewer street-side oden stalls, where customers usually have to eat shoulder-to-shoulder, this year. However, Ikuna now has a new favorite place to get oden: right at her work desk!

On a recent shopping trip to Tokyo’s Akihabara electrics district, Ikuna stumbled across manufacture Hac’s Oden Maker (it’s also available here through Amazon for 2,970 yen [US$29]). The plug-in cooking appliance is compact enough to fit on a small table or desk, yet spacious enough to allow you to cook multiple types of oden simultaneously.

▼ There’s a removable divider to keep things organized, and you can also use the Oden Maker as a hot plate.

To test the machine out, Ikuna also picked up a pack of oden ingredients containing the necessary broth plus sliced friend tofu, thick-cut daikon radish, chikuwa fish sausage, and eggs (though technically you can make anything into oden as long as you use oden broth, which can also be purchased by itself). After arranging the ingredients and pouring in the broth, all that was left to do was plug in the Oden Maker and switch it on.

After a few minutes, the enticing aroma of oden started wafting up from the pot, and Ikuna’s ears were tantalized by the sound of the softly bubbling broth.

▼ The view from Ikuna’s desk, looking more beautiful than ever before

Everything took about 10 minutes to cook, and once it was ready Ikuna grabbed her bowl and chopsticks, took a bite…

…and was completely satisfied by the delicious flavor! This was actually even better than getting take-out oden from the convenience store because it provided instant gratification and also avoided the problem of her food getting cold on the walk back from the store. Also, since you can’t really overcook oden, Ikuna was happy to be able to keep the machine going on her desk so that she’d have a selection of hot oden snacks if she got hungry again later, which is a much healthier option than tearing open a bag of cookies or potato chips.

Really, the only drawback is that it wasn’t long until some of her officemates started asking if they could have a piece.

But even that has a potential upside, Ikuna feels, since it fosters communication and comradery among coworkers, kind of like a non-alcoholic version of those trendy companies that have an in-office pub, or an edible version of an employee ping pong table. As a matter of fact, Ikuna’s next goal is to convince our boss that he should always have a pot of oden going in the office as a morale booster, and given some of the crazy things he’s done with food lately, she might just be able to talk him into it.

Photos ©SoraNews24
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