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Summer Tradition! 5 Great Eel Restaurants in Tokyo

There is a summer tradition in Japan called "doyo no ushi no hi" ("day of the ox in midsummer"). It is a day on which people eat nutrition-rich eels in order to revitalize themselves to pull through the rest of the summer. Eels are usually grilled and dipped into salty-sweet sauce. Here are 5 restaurants in Tokyo you can enjoy tasty eels.

1. Akimoto

Akimoto is an old restaurant with a history of 104 years. It has been granted one Michelin star and is so popular that it gets full a second after it opens for the day.
The eels they use are Kyosui eels that are raised carefully, taking about twice as much time as normal ones. The recommended meal is Unaju, eel served over rice in a lacquered box. The eels are grilled with their special sauce that has been passed down through generations since its establishment over a century ago. Sample price: Unaju (4,800 JPY (incl. tax)) etc.

English speaking staff and menu available

1. Akimoto

3-4-4 Kojimachi, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo

2. Kawasei

Kawasei is a traditional Japanese restaurant. They only use rich and thick eels. The most popular dish is Unaju (5,000 JPY (excl. tax)) made with the highest grade eel that they offer. It is a dish of sliced pieces of eel grilled with rich sauce served on rice. The grilled eel is savory and soft and once you put it in your mouth, it almost melts away.
Their course meal such as the Basic Eel Course (8,500 JPY (excl. tax)) which provides you with a number of different eel dishes is also recommended.

2. Kawasei

1-7-5 Fujimi, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo

3. Obana

Obana is said to be one of the best eel restaurants in Tokyo with having received one Michelin star. So many people are willing to wait in a long line just to eat their eel.
Their No.1 most popular dish Unaju (4,300 JPY (excl. tax)/ 5,300 JPY (excl. tax)) is a dish of sliced eels charcoal-grilled with sauce and served on rice. The eel is soft and savory, and it tastes mild, yet delightful.
The restaurant has been sticking with their rather traditional policy to prepare the eel for cooking only after they take the order, so it takes a bit longer than the others to serve a meal, but it certainly worth the wait. They have some light foods like Uzaku (grilled eel mixed with pickled cucumbers in vinegar). Waiting for your eel with some sake is part of the whole experience.

3. Obana

5-33-1 Minamisenju, Arakawa-ku, Tokyo

4. Ishibashi

Ishibashi is a famous restaurant which has been featured in the Michelin Guide Tokyo 2017. They, too, start preparing the eel only after they take order. The eels are steamed for 40 to 60 min before being dipped into the sauce and grilled with charcoal. They say steaming it right before they grill is the key to the eel's soft texture.
Apart from their single meals such as Unaju Jo (4,000 JPY(incl. tax)), they have course meals like the 13,000 JPY course (incl. tax) that let you have a variety of eel dishes and fully appreciate the eels. In addition, they have great sake from all over the country selected by a sake sommelier.

English menu available

4. Ishibashi

2-4-29 Suido, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo

5. Kawaei

Kawaei is a popular restaurant with a repetition for reasonable prices. Here, you can have tasty eel dishes at a reasonable price. Their popular meals include Kabayaki (1,700 - 2,900 JPY), grilled eel with a sweet sauce, and Unaju (2,200~3,400 JPY). These eels are grilled so they're fluffy and savory. Their signature dish is Shinobiju (3,300~6,300 JPY). At first glance, it is just an ordinary unaju, but it is a luxury dish as there is another layer of eel hidden in the rice.

5. Kawaei

1-19-16 Akabane, Kita-ku, Tokyo

In Tokyo, there are a lot of eel restaurant from ones with reasonable prices to luxurious ones. If you are visiting Japan in summer, why not try the nutritious eel dishes?

*Please note that the information in this article is from the time of writing or publication and may differ from the latest information.

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