I recently got an invitation to a sake dinner / opening event. And then realized, I know very little nothing about sake.

The Oden by Kanpai Sake School is a new Japanese restaurant and sake bar at Five on the Bund, run by Taiwanese restaurant group Kanpai, who also operate Kanpai Classic at Five and Three on the Bund.

An “oden” is a Japanese one-pot dish of ingredients that cooks simmering in light stock. It’s also served in snack form, skewered and stewed in little trays from food carts.

The idea is to combine this street food with sake culture and their intensive sake program.  

The Oden Bar — all about sake

Kanpai is working directly with sake master brewers (toji) from Japan and have collaborated with OU SAKE, a sake school led by Karen Chen, restaurateur of Jianguo 328, Unagi, Vesta, and Machiya. OU SAKE has a team of qualified, licensed Japanese sake masters, providing classes supported with research and in-depth info about the sakes and where they come from.

The Oden by Kanpai Sake School, a Japanese restaurant and sake bar on the Bund. Photo by Rachel Gouk.
The Oden by Kanpai Sake School, a Japanese restaurant and sake bar on the Bund. Photo by Rachel Gouk.

The Oden has a venerable selection of sakes and aims to highlight 6-8 new labels seasonally.  

One of the sakes is Kokuryu Junmai Gingo (1.8ml bottle is ¥2,280, 120ml is ¥140), from a brewery founded in 1804.

The Kokuryu brewery is located in the mountains of Fukui, a place that looks like absolute nirvana with snow-capped mountains, running rivers, a springtime vista of blossoming trees as far as the eye can see. The brewery shares the same life force as its surroundings, the Kuzuryu, River of the Nine-Headed Dragon. The pristine waters are filtered by nature and are made into, as their website states, “a luxurious drink born of time and gifts from the worlds of nature and man.”

Such are the caliber of sakes you’ll find here.

Explore with a selection of four sakes for ¥350, each pour is 60ml.

The Oden by Kanpai Sake School, a Japanese restaurant and sake bar on the Bund. Photo by Rachel Gouk.
The Oden by Kanpai Sake School, a Japanese restaurant and sake bar on the Bund. Photo by Rachel Gouk.
My face at the end of four sakes.

About the food

Guests who order sake at The Oden Bar will get complimentary oden bites—like an aperitivo or tapas with your drink. Additional orders will be charged, of course.

Apart from the premium cuts of sashimi, peony prawns, sea urchin, and Australian wagyu, the rest of the items are relatively affordable. Beef tongue (¥25), roasted dried fish (¥28), meatballs (¥35), bamboo shoots (¥15), and wagyu carpaccio (¥88), for an idea of pricing. (10% service charge on the bill for food and drink.)

Here’s how some of the food looks like, from the invited tasting:

The Oden by Kanpai Sake School, a Japanese restaurant and sake bar on the Bund. Photo by Rachel Gouk.
Australian beef at The Oden by Kanpai Sake School, a Japanese restaurant and sake bar on the Bund. Photo by Rachel Gouk.
Australian beef wrapped around sea urchin
The Oden by Kanpai Sake School, a Japanese restaurant and sake bar on the Bund. Photo by Rachel Gouk.
Massive scallop dusted with mentaiko
The Oden by Kanpai Sake School, a Japanese restaurant and sake bar on the Bund. Photo by Rachel Gouk.
Red kinki wrapped in shiso
The Oden by Kanpai Sake School, a Japanese restaurant and sake bar on the Bund. Photo by Rachel Gouk.
Torched toro with mountain yam
The Oden by Kanpai Sake School, a Japanese restaurant and sake bar on the Bund. Photo by Rachel Gouk.
Individual oden — fish cake, abalone, veg, brined tomato, fish
Wagyu at The Oden by Kanpai Sake School, a Japanese restaurant and sake bar on the Bund. Photo by Rachel Gouk.
They threw in some wagyu, because that makes people happy.
The Oden by Kanpai Sake School, a Japanese restaurant and sake bar on the Bund. Photo by Rachel Gouk.
Quickly simmered in this delicious stock
The Oden by Kanpai Sake School, a Japanese restaurant and sake bar on the Bund. Photo by Rachel Gouk.
and tossed in raw egg yolk
Dessert at The Oden by Kanpai Sake School, a Japanese restaurant and sake bar on the Bund. Photo by Rachel Gouk.
Mocha tiramisu with red bean for dessert

Understanding sake grades

Daiginjo

Daiginjo is the highest grade of sake and, accordingly, the most expensive. Rice polishing needs to be at least 50%, but can be as high 35% – meaning that 75% of rice has been milled away. The quality of brewing and flavor profile also has to be superior. The remainder of rice after polishing is called seimaibuai.

Ginjo

Premium sake made with rice polished to less than 60% of the original grain size.  

Junmai 

Pure rice sake, made without any addition of brewer’s alcohol.

Junmai Ginjo/Junmai Daiginjo

Premium sake made without any addition of brewer’s alcohol.

Who’s going?

Sake lovers, people looking to impress Japanese guests, and those entertaining business.

The Oden by Kanpai Sake School, a Japanese restaurant and sake bar on the Bund. Photo by Rachel Gouk.

The Oden
Address: 3/F, 20 Guangdong Lu, near Zhongshan Dong Yi Lu 广东路20号3楼, 近中山东一路
Tel: 63330009
Hours: 6pm-1am