Dashiochazuke En/ A warm meal great for a chilly day
Dashiochazuke En, besides having a quite long-winded name, is a small restaurant serving ochazuke located within the massive Akiba-Ichi Complex. Before I get to the review, though, I should probably explain exactly what ochazuke is. Basically, ochazuke is a rice dish in which soup or tea is poured over the rice, turning it into a soup-like dish. The rice will have various toppings on it, depending on what you order, and even the soup or tea can be customized.
Now, onto the restaurant.
An easily accessible menu outside
Dashiochazuke En, as it’s name would suggest, specializes in dashiochazuke, which uses dashi, a clear Japanese soup stock made from kelp and bonito flakes, as the broth that will be poured over the rice. You might not have heard of dashi before, but it’s actually what forms the base of miso soup. When you walk up to the front of the shop, you’ll see your many options laid out, in both English and Japanese, with pictures on a light-up sign below the name. This means that you can decide what you want before walking mean, ensuring that you aren’t that silly foreigner who’s holding up the line at the ticket vending machine.
Helpful English menu
The staff here was extremely helpful. Right when I walked in, the waiter walked up to me with an English menu and offered to help me use the vending machine, seeing as it was entirely in Japanese. I told him I was fine with the Japanese, but for those who can’t speak the language, know that you’ll be well taken care of here. On top of that, after you give them your ticket, they’ll ask you what size rice bowl you want – small, medium or large. If you can’t understand, they’ll bring out another handy picture guide, where you can point to the size bowl you want.
The food came out very quickly – maybe two minutes after handing the waiter my ticket. I ordered the maguro (tuna), so my bowl of rice came topped with a few good looking pieces of fish. In addition to the main bowl, there was a teapot filled with the hot dashi, a small plate with cold sato imo (taro potato), a small cup with tofu in sesame sauce, and a small dish of lightly pickled cabbage. You start by pouring your dashi over your bowl of rice by yourself – a surprisingly satisfying process. After my first bite of the ochazuke, I knew this place was a good choice. The fish had a nice taste to it and was slightly cooked by the hot dashi, creating a nice effect. The tofu was out of this world. It was silky smooth, and the sesame sauce was delicious, so I was left wishing the small cup of tofu was 5 times its size. The sato imo and pickled cabbage were good, but nothing to write home about, although they provided a nice balance to the meal as a whole.
The only downside I could find in this experience was that there didn’t seem to a be an easy way to get a glass of water. Upon being seated, you are immediately giving a hot cup of tea, but no one seemed to be drinking water, so I didn’t want to be an inconvenience and ask for it. I’m sure they can get you some, but it just didn’t seem like “the thing to do” at this restaurant. It’s a small negative point, though, so don’t worry too much.
Overall, this is a great place, especially on a chilly autumn day. The combination of the hot broth and hot cup of tea are sure to warm you up and get you ready for the next part of your day in Akihabara. For only 800 yen for maguro, with other options being cheaper, Dashiochazuke En is a good meal for a decent price.
Dashiochazuke En is located on the second floor of the Akiba-Ichi complex. To reach it, take the “Electric Town” exit out of the station, and head to the right, towards the AKB 48 Cafe. Cross the street and you’ll see the koban (police box), which is located on the first floor of the same building. Take a escalator up a floor, and you’ll see it on your right!
■Hours: 11:00-23:00 M-Sat, 11:00-22:00 Sun
■Access: Akihabara UDX AKIBA_ICHI 2F, 4-14-1, Sotokanda, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo, 101-0021