Unagi (eel) is one of fish that Japanese are well familiar with, and it is something we recommend you to try while in Japan. Especially, "Una-jyu" and "Una-don"; bowls of steamy rice with soft grilled eel dipped in salty-sweet sauce, are superb. Today, we will tell you 5 old restaurants in Tokyo where you can savor them.
The famous “Nodaiwa” has a history of 200 years and they have won one star in 2016 Michelin Guide. They offer outstanding eels with sauce that has been secretly handed down since the opening of their store. What’s more, they continue to suggest different ways to enjoy eels in such innovative ways; for example with wasabi (horseradish) , caviar and wine. Current owner of the restaurant is their 5th, and back in 2007, he was awarded as one of the nation’s highest skilled craftsmen. Their “Unajyu” starts at 2,900 JPY with tax. Besides their main shop in Azabu, they also have shops in Ginza, Shimo-Kitazawa and in Nihonbashi Takashimaya.
2. Edogawa Ishibashi
Edogawa Ishibashi is dedicated to eels. They was established in 1910 and they were on the 2015 Michelin Guide. Here, you will notice the restaurant's long history in the brick walls at the entrance, which survived the Great Tokyo Air Raids in 1945, and also in the alcove posts in their Japanese style tatami-room made with pre-war materials. Eels that they use are of fine quality from Shizuoka prefecture and Kyusyu area. After cutting, they steam eels for about an hour, grill them slowly with Binchotan charcoal and put them in Wajima-nuri lacquerware Jyu-bako (multi-tiered food boxes). Though you need to make a reservation considering time they require to cook, they offer historical Japanese flavor that is worth that effort. Una-jyu (with pickles and eel liver soup) starts at 4,000 JPY (with tax).
Obana is one of the most well-known eel restaurants in Tokyo with one star in 2016 Michelin Guide. They have two Una-jyu available at 4,644 JPY and 5,724 JPY with tax (as of July 2015). Be prepared to wait for a while before you get to eat it though since they start cooking only after they receive an order. So, it is recommended that you also order an "Umaki (egg-roll with eel)" or yakitori that you can enjoy while you wait. Also, be ready to wait in a line since they do not accept reservations. If busy, you may have to wait patiently for over an hour, but remember that you get to savor the best-of-the best Una-jyu after the wait.
4. Unagi Irokawa
Unagi Irokawa opened in 1861 and they are another one of the well-established Unagi restaurant. Due to their location in tourist-destination Asakusa, you will get to feel good-old downtown atmosphere here. They are famous for Una-jyu using domestic eels grilling them slowly with Binchotan charcoals. With exclusively selected rice and sweet sauce that they use, flavors of eels are further brought out. They are listed in "2015 Bib Gourmand" and their reasonable Una-jyu starts at 2,500 JPY with tax.
4. Unagi Irokawa
5. Chikuyo-Tei Kobiki-Cho Main Store
The history of long-established "Chikuyo-Tei Kobiki-Cho Main Store" started in 1866 and they started offering broiled eels in 1876. Simple broiled eel that is dipped in savory and slightly pungent sauce was once loved by Souseki Natsume, one of Japan's greatest writers, and it actually appeared in his piece. Due to its location in Ginza, a center of businesses, there is a line of people waiting during lunch time, but it is certainly worth the wait. They are listed in "2015 Bib Gourmand" and their Unagi-don (with soup) starts at 2,592 JPY with tax.
How did you like knowing about the well-established Unagi restaurants in Tokyo? Please do experience the traditional Japanese flavor when in Japan. *There may be additional charges besides meals depending on a restaurant, so we suggest you to confirm before making a trip.
*Please note that the information in this article is from the time of writing or publication and may differ from the latest information.