Ondo Ongaku Shokudo is in a relaxed basement space on the edge of Hiroshima’s entertainment district, located below and named after the Ondo Onsen public bathhouse. Ondo offers a friendly welcome and is a place where you can get some homestyle Japanese food made with carefully selected ingredients, enjoy a drink after work and/or groove until dawn.
Ondo is found by ducking into the somewhat nondescript corner building, recognisable by the red “yu” [ゆ] which indicates o-yu or “hot water”, making your way past some laundry machines and down a flight of stairs.
Ondo takes it’s name from the onsen hot spring, Ondo Onsen, in the building above. Ondo’s proprietors, Satoshi and Ayumi, long time fans and frequent customers to the onsen, had been hunting for a suitable location for their new venture for about a year and a half when they noticed that the basement of the building had become vacant. It seemed like the prefect space, and they got to work creating the cozy wooden interior themselves.
The Japanese word shokudo can refer to a basic canteen of the kind you might find in a big company or on a college campus, but it also describes neighborhood eateries where local go for no-fuss, hearty meals (like the kind that their mums used to make) that are easy on the wallet. Ondo offers a daily teishoku set meal, as well as pasta, pizza and various side dishes. The food might be simple, but great attention is paid to the fresh and seasonal ingredients used. Ondo opens at 5pm on weekdays, which makes it a good option for an after work meal, but the meals are served throughout the night.
As the name suggests, ongaku or music is also a big part of what Ondo offers. Indeed, right next to the kitchen behind the counter bar is a huge collection of vinyl records. The soundtrack is generally laid back during the week, and you’ll here jazz, soul and reggae. When DJs take control they do so from behind a set up that puts them on the same level as the customers that encourages connection between selector, listener and groover. The sound system is of good quality and Ondo hosts events that range from live gigs to all night house gigs that bring to mind New York loft parties.
There is a counter bar as well as tables and chairs. As well as music events Ondo also holds the occasional flea market and various workshops on the “dance floor”.
At the end of long Friday and Saturday nights, everything comes back full circle with the kitchen serving up a energy boosting breakfast of rice balls, miso soup and pickles. And, of course, the onsen upstairs is open until 8am.
Opening hours Monday-Thursday 17:00-03:00, Friday & Saturday 20:00-05:00
Address: B1F Ondo Onsen Building, 6-3 Tanakamachi, Naka-ku, Hiroshima-shi