Shonan Umimaru

Shonan Umimaru

This new Marunouchi restaurant offers a taste of oden - no matter what the season


Originally published on on March 2010

Photos by Sarah Noorbakhsh

Oden is enjoyed as a winter dish all over Japan, but at newly opened Shonan Umimaru, the steaming treats are on offer all year round.

We arrived on a recent weekday evening without a reservation and immediately snagged a spot at the long counter that faces the busy chef. The restaurant has the look of a simple, clean and modern izakaya, with pine finishing, booth seats and a tatami section that’s perfect for groups. This latter area offers views out over Tokyo station, but if you want to take a look, you’ll have to reserve your spot in advance.

Shonan Umimaru is a collaboration between Kamakura soba eatery Issaan and Fujisawa oden restaurant Higeden, and at lunchtime the most popular dish is a bowl of semi-thick chu-buto udon. At night, all the usual varieties of oden are on offer—konnyaku, egg (both ¥315) and satsuma age (¥420)—with the unusual twist being that they’re cooked in a broth of chicken stock as well as the usual dashi. As its name suggests, the restaurant sources most of its ingredients from the Shonan area.

We were in the mood to try some of the house specialties, and seeing as the helpful chef was so close by, we asked him for recommendations. First up were servings of onion and tomato oden (both ¥420)—the tomato was sweet and succulent, though a little pricey for just one piece. This was followed by cheese satsuma age (¥420), which was an interesting change from the usual plain fishcake and a piece each of tofu and daikon (¥315), both of which tasted rich and flavorful thanks to the house broth.

The two highlights, though, came after the regular oden dishes. The stewed gyu suji (¥630)—beef tendon—had a smooth, buttery taste that’s far richer than anything you’d find in fast food restaurants. We followed this with another of the chef’s recommendations, aji sashimi (¥1,260). Served with chopped ginger that gave the dish a welcome bite, the top-quality sashimi was fantastically tender.

Shonan Umimaru offers a reasonable drinks menu, including all the usual izakaya favorites like beer (¥700), cocktails and umeshu (¥735). The selection of sake and shochu includes some regional varieties.

The prices here are perhaps a little high even for what is admittedly very good oden, but in an area filled with swish French and Italian eateries, it’s nice to switch off from the European vibe and try some wintertime Japanese comfort food—even if it’s no longer winter.