As the temperatures gradually sink into a chilly winter, convenience stores all across this great nation start to kick their oden pots into high gear. For those unacquainted with this Japanese dish, oden is basically any type of food soaked and simmered in a flavorful broth. The type of soup used varies by regions but is usually very savory.
Although not the only place to get oden, convenience stores are thought of as the first place to get it. That’s why Japan’s three biggest convenience stores – 7-Eleven, Family Mart, and Lawson – are all competing to find that perfect ingredient to simmer and sell to the hungry masses.
To help kick-off this year’s oden season in Japan, Excite News has released the five most popular oden foods at each of the big three stores. First up is Lawson!
1st Lawson’s Farm Daikon
2nd Yodo Egg – Hikari Egg
3rd Organic Konyaku Shirataki
4th Silky Deep Fried Tofu (Using Domestic Tofu)
5th Beef Tendons
The Japanese radish known as a daikon tops the charts at Lawson, followed by their overly fancy name for a boiled egg. Both of these items are said to be specially raised by Lawson’s Farm to become the optimal oden ingredients.
Rounding out the top five is third-place shirataki; the low-calorie gelatinous noodles made from the root of the konjac plant. Weight-watching diners in the US might find shirataki sold under the name Miracle Noodles. Fourth and fifth are taken by fried tofu and beef.
Moving on, let’s see what’s flying out of the pots at Family Mart.
2nd Kodawari Ajitsu Egg
3rd Ajitsu Shirataki
5th Deep Fried Tofu (Silky)
Although being mercifully more simply named, Family Mart’s most desired oden foods are surprisingly similar to Lawson’s. The top three are essentially exactly the same and although dropping to number five, fried tofu still makes an appearance. The only difference here is konjac which is the same substance as shirataki but with added hijiki and in a triangular brick shape.
Last but not least, we have the top five of 7-Eleven stores across Japan.
1st Ajishimi Daikon
2nd Skewered Beef
3rd Kodawari Egg
4th Deep Fried Tofu
Yet again daikon reigns supreme in the oden kingdom. Egg, tofu, and shirataki all get in the top five again, but in a shocking upset skewered beef clinches the number two spot.
All of the convenience stores have been experimenting with new tastes and foods to dunk in their salty broths, like 7-Eleven’s three-cheese hamburger and octopus, or Family Mart’s chicken wing and pork wrapped burdock root.
However, in the end the classics like daikon, egg and konjac continue to win out. It’s not surprise either. Daikon is pretty much god’s gift to oden and looks hard to top. If you’ve never had daikon oden, it tastes like a fruit from an alien planet that is hot, juicy, and tastes like freshly fried and seasoned potato chips.
Perhaps that’s why it seems Lawson is focusing on perfecting production of classics like daikon and eggs rather than revolutionary new foods. It’s a strategy that should pay off for now.
But if one of their competitors stumbles on an even better food for simmering then it’s a whole new ball game. Either way, the winners will always be the fans of some salty and savory soup-soaked foods hot from the local store.