Ojou Japanese Home Cooking

Home cooking with restaurant presentation

By Laura Welch    - 3 min read

Japan is so varied that it can be hard to find an “authentic” Japanese experience. Sure, a lot of people do visit all the big food chains like MOS Burger and Yoshinoya; people go to ramen restaurants and order out (distinctly Japanese) pizza. But for day-to-day food, Japanese families usually cook at home. Where can you find that experience?

I can't guarantee that it's the same as a family meal, but the closest thing to it might just be Ojou. A very small restaurant with only a handful of tables, it's a business run from a family home. The restaurant is split between two rooms, one of which has a counter and low tables on tatami, both of which are decorated simply. One room in particular feels homely, with a TV in one corner and a few shelves of manga (One Piece is popular everywhere) and books. It's already much better than a chain store.

The menu is roughly the same as a chain store, based around staples of Japanese food – bowls of noodles, katsu (breaded, fried food) and rice bowls, but at Ojou they also serve sushi. In fact, it was originally a sushi restaurant. The prices aren't much higher than their commercial counterpart, but the quality and size of the portions are noticeably better. They offer a wide variety of meals, so there's something to suit everyone. They also serve a range of alcoholic drinks, from plum wine to beer to cocktails.

My first meal there was a pork katsu with a twist. Instead of being served with the rice in one bowl, the katsu was served separately, sizzling hot, on a small, iron griddle. It came with soup and some vegetable pickles, all beautifully presented on one, big tray. It was so delicious I couldn't eat it fast enough, although personally I wasn't a fan of the soup. It was a refreshing change to have simple Japanese food made with care and attention, and served in bowls that weren't all made of plastic. After several visits, I've not had a bad meal there yet, and every time I've left with a full stomach and a smile.

They don't seem to have a huge local presence, despite the enormous signs that intrigued me enough to go, but they do appear to have some regulars. It's a relaxed place to take your time eating a delicious, simple meal.

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Laura Welch

Laura Welch @laura.welch

One of my favourite things about Japan is the wonderful variety of food, and I love to share what I find. When I'm not eating, you might find me singing karaoke or walking around hoping to make new discoveries!

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Laura Welch Author 7 years ago
I can only speak for the Sendai area, but as far as I can tell it's almost all locals! Sendai has a relatively large resident foreign population, and its fair share of both national and international tourists, but there are still more Japanese-speaking locals!
Amanda Callander 7 years ago
This is such a great idea! I always think it is a must to try local food when travelling. You miss out on such a big part of the culture otherwise.

Are there any eating areas of Miyagi that are frequented by locals? That's how I always judge if a place is good - can you hear the local language, or is it only english speakers who eat there!