To me, 1 Michelin star is less about how good it is and more about quality of ingredients and minimal mistakes (if any). Typically, this also means they are not pushing or risking either. It's just solid food, well delivered. If that is a good definition, then odo is spot on.
It can be difficult for a novice like me to even judge kaiseke, though. This type of Japanese meal follows a specific arc of dishes and the flavors are intended to be pure and simple. Almost muted. Clean. It takes an expert to create dishes that meet this standard and surely a similar palate to properly examine. Mine is not one.
The dishes were excellent though. Delicious. Quality ingredients. This was a terrific lunch. Service lacked a bit and there were a few substantive issues ("substantive" is merely as one would judge Michelin level restaurants, mind you). The first course was extremely hot. It burned my mouth. A warning should definitely have been provided. I also found a small crab shell in there, which is a major faux pas at this level.
Too, the descriptions of each dish were given rote - as a sixth grader might read memorized lines in a play. The resulting effect is that you as the guest feel like an afterthought. One of many coming through their production line, rather than an individual, valued visitor.
For me, the biggest was actually the food. Three dishes with A5? Sure, the 3rd was a supplemental add-on, but it was prepared much the same as the menu'd dish - char grilled. So the flavor profiles were nearly identical. With no menu provided, it was impossible to know before ordering. This typically shows a lack of imagination, lack of skill or limited equipment. I presume the latter at odo.
I should note that the two char-grilled A5 dishes were the stand-outs of the meal. It wasn't about skill, value or preparation. It was about variety and the "journey" that every tasting menu should bring you on - most especially kaiseke! These journeys should not revisit a previous stop.
This probably comes off far more negatively than intended. The lunch was very enjoyable and showed quality and mastery of cooking. For me though, these are the reasons odo sits with a single Michelin star. My guess? That's where it will stay.
Replying to Steven Smith
What do you think? I'd love to hear from you.