Whether or not you like Oyako don, you have to come and visit this little mom-and-pop shop in Tsukiji Market – Nambaratei 南ばら亭. It was by chance we found this tiny shop after the other Oyako don shop that I had attempted to find in Tsukiji fell to futile attempts on this fateful Christmas eve morning. As we walked through the cramp lanes of Tsukiji, my alert and big eyes spotted a chicken bowl picture on a standing poster and I made R and Y come to an immediate halt. We asked this kind looking grandma standing there, if it was oyako don and she said “Hai” (which is yes). We decided to check it out.
After some research, I found out that the chef’s name is Mr Nambara, together with his wife, they run this shop, which later we discovered took the 1st prize home in oyako don category for the 2015 national rice bowl competition!
Figuring out with my friendly taxi driver where best to drop off at Tsukiji Market.
We plonked ourselves in the only available tiny table with stools in front of Nambaratei, and attempted to figure out which on the menu was recommended. Given we weren’t sure if it was that good or the size of it we ordered one bowl first of the one in the 2nd row (see pic below).
We picked the 2nd one first and 4th item later.
Description in Chinese characters on the source of their ingredients.
Given how Y and I always love to cook oyako don at home, we were standing in front of Chef Nambara to see how he cooked the dish. All his cooking equipment and utensils are custom made to ensure the best oyako don is achieved.
The menu had some explanation in Chinese about their sauce and chicken, hence we were able to understand the ingredients used in his secret recipe. Firstly, the chicken they use here is organic and Awao-dori branded, raised in the Tokushima prefecture, and is known for their pink flesh, sweet and succulent meat.
The eggs, which is the second important ingredient are also reared from specific chickens and known to be rich in antioxidants.
The sauce has no sugar or mirin used in it unlike many other oyako sauces, which is his secret recipe.
Rice, the last important ingredient – in this case, he uses organic Koshihikari rice, which uses pure natural farming methods to harvest (no chemicals, pesticides, and other artificial agents).
Every egg that’s used for the dish is weighed, after which Nambara-san will calculate how much chicken is necessary for the amount of egg used. Cooking is like science, and from this to the way he has perfected the sauce, he’s definitely got some good science going here!
He cooked the chicken first in a custom made pan with a vertical handle, and when the chicken was sizzling and almost cooked, he poured in the beaten eggs and let the flavour of the egg yolk season the chicken. As Y and I have an obsession with Oyako Don and make it quite a fair bit at home, we wanted to ask him to sell us the custom made cooking tools, which I am sure he will probably decline ha ha.
Step 1: Chef cooks chicken in his secret sauce.
Step 2: Chef pours egg batter into pan.
Close up of the egg with chicken sizzling away.
At this point, he poured another portion of egg batter in a pan and using a pair of custom made wooden thick sticks (that looked like fat chopsticks) to quickly scramble the eggs by continuously stirring it in a figure 8 to fluff the eggs for around 30 seconds, eventually resulting in a soufflé like texture.
Secret behind the special souffle eggs.
Once 70% cooked, he combined the sizzled chicken and egg from the first pan and this soufflé scrambled egg onto a large bowl of rice. It was like a perfect yin yang oyako don. Every inch of the chicken was coated with egg, and the soufflé egg was buttery and soft and just slightly runny, which felt like perfect breakfast eggs. It was really oh so perfect… Writing this post is making me miss it so muuccchh!!
We enjoyed it so much so we ordered a simple oyako don for the 2nd bowl which was pretty good too, but I liked the first better due to the special buttery ‘souffle’ scrambled egg topping.
Thank goodness he sold the oyako sauce, so we bought a few bottles home to try, but obviously after a few attempts since then, we still haven’t been anywhere close to Chef Nambara’s standard. Whatever grain-free, no-carbohydrates, atkins, paleo diet you may be on, just throw it out of the window and eat this oyako don, you won’t regret it. I can’t wait to visit them again.
4-14-14 Tsukiji Chuo Tokyo (東京都 中央区 築地 4-14-14)
Tel: 03-3248-8085 (+81-3-3248-8085)
Directions on getting there since it’s such a maze here:
Get off at the junction where Harumi Dori crosses with Shin Ohashi Dori. You will find the main market is to your right. You will walk pass 3 buildings with the third one being a grey building with Sukiya (the Japanese mass food joint). Turn right into the the lane immediately after that. To be certain, you should see a large corner grocery shop with red awning on the left of this lane. Walk all the way down to almost the end of the lane, and the yummy oyako don is the 2nd last shop on your left before you see a large road running horizontal. It’s easy to miss it, as it’s slightly recessed in from the other shops. Hope my instructions helps!