Monday, December 30, 2013

Tamahide 玉ひで: Birthplace of Oyakodon

It's not even opened yet but queue starts to form outside the white two-storey building right in the heart of Ningyocho. 
This is not surprising, for this is the place where Oyakodon was born. Oyako-don, a rather nice sounding (yet cruel) name that refers to the hen and her children (the eggs) being placed together in the same bowl of rice. 
The shop began as a place that sells chicken hotpot more than 250 years old, but Oyakodon did not appear until the wife of 5th generation owner Yamada Hideyoshi created this in 1891.  
Lunch menu is simple with only four items. This is the 元祖親子丼 ¥1500, which most people order. There is the minced chicken version at ¥1200, chicken with liver ¥1800 and the Premium version at ¥2000 (comes with egg yolks of Ukokkei chicken and grilled chicken breast meat)  
Somewhat like ramen, you order and pay for your item at the entrance before being seated. 

Once settled down, a cup of clear chicken soup (not miso soup) will be served to you. It is said to contain the essence of the chicken. 
Well, Oyakodon is essentially rice, eggs and chicken. What makes Tamahide special is the chicken that they called "軍鶏" which are fighting roosters (not kampung chicken) that they raised themselves since the shop started. 
But unfortunately, I found the chicken chunks not dry, but not as tender and palatable as I expected. And this makes me wonder if it is because fighting chicken are too muscular?  
Instead, it was the pool of semi-consolidated egg mixture that make the Oyakodon shine. The eggs are neither scrambled or so wobbly like those in Omurice, but cooked somehow to an ideal degree. 
It was a well balanced taste of sweet and savory and some have seeped into the rice below and binds them together.  
No matter which set you order, it will definitely be served in a round dish like this. It seems that this was made perfectly for oyakodon because the egg mixture spreads evenly to approximately the same thickness as the rice layer. So one won't be left with too much plain rice at the base if the ingredients are wiped clean ahead of the rice. 
You can't choose where you like to seat and most likely you will sit face to face with some salarymen or unknown person in the same table. Come dinner time and you can enjoy their signature chicken hotpot that has a longer history than Oyakodon, as well as elaborate courses that serve Oyakodon at near finale
Queue after my meal

The Oyakodon here is simple yet satisfying. However, I'm sure there are many tasty Oyakodons at a more affordable price in Japan. Not the best value-for-money Oyakodon but certainly one that is worth trying to understand the simplicity of the original dish. 
No onions, no soy sauce or any other tare (condiments), no chicken skin. 
This is what they call Oyakodon. 

Tamahide 玉ひで
1-17-10 Nihonbashi Ningyocho, Chuo-ku Tokyo, Japan 
Exit A2 Ningyocho Station 
Tel: +81 3 3668 7651
Lunch 11.30am-1pm (the queue will be terminated by 1pm so do come before that!)
Dinner 5pm-10pm (4pm-9pm on weekends & PH) 

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