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Plump and Aromatic! Five Famous “Unagi” Restaurants in the Kansai Area

Unagi dishes are popular around the country. And there are many restaurants in the Kansai region that serve outstanding unagi. This time, we introduce five famous restaurants in Kyoto, Nara and Osaka!

1. Gion Umenoi Tosembo (Kyoto)

This is Kyoto's oldest unagi freshwater eel restaurant, and is a renowned restaurant that appears in the MICHELIN guide Kyoto Osaka 2017. The standard menu item, Kabayaki (2,250 JPY (excl. tax) and up) of unagi, is charcoal grilled then re-grilled with a rich sauce that has been nurtured for decades. It has a soft texture that seems to melt in your mouth, and a light and delicate flavor. The Unajyu (4,800 JPY (excl. tax)), which is unagi kabayaki on rice, is also recommended.

1. Gion Umenoi Tosembo (Kyoto)

Inside Gion-machi Kitagawa Maruyama Koen, Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto

2. Hirokawa (Kyoto)

This next restaurant is also a famous restaurant that appeared in the MICHELIN guide Kyoto Osaka 2017. Its Kabayaki (3,700 JPY and up (incl. tax)) is first steamed then dipped in a sauce and grilled to plump and aromatic perfection. The Unajyu (2,900 JPY (incl. tax)) is also so popular that the restaurant sometimes has long queues at the weekend.
Another appeal of this restaurant is that it serves Wild Unagi (market price per fish) that is not farm-raised and very rare these days. They are not always able to procure wild unagi, so be sure to check in advance and make reservations.

Foreign language menus: English
Foreign languages spoken: English

2. Hirokawa (Kyoto)

44-1 Sagatenryuji Kitatsukurimichi-cho, Ukyo-ku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto

3. Unakiku (Nara)

Unakiku, which we introduce next, is an unagi restaurant run by the well-established ryotei restaurant, Kikusuiro, that has been in operation for more than 125 years. Unakiku is on the same grounds as Kikusuiro, so you can enjoy luxury unagi cuisine in a historic building that was built as overnight accommodations for members of the Imperial Family.
The deeply flavored sauce has been handed down for over 100 years at Kikusuiro. The unagi served here is thick and fatty and is made fluffy, soft and juicy by steaming before grilling.
Enjoy the superior flavors of the unagi as Kabayaki (1,800 JPY (excl. tax) - 3,600 JPY (excl. tax)) or Unajyu (2,200 JPY (excl. tax) - 5,500 JPY (excl. tax)).

Foreign language menus: English, Chinese, Korean

3. Unakiku (Nara)

Annex of Kikkusuiro, 1130 Takabatake-cho, Nara-shi, Nara

4. Osaka Unagi Gumi (Osaka)

The next restaurant we introduce has a modern atmosphere that is different from traditional unagi restaurants. It is a place where you can casually enjoy good unagi.
The menu includes the standard Unajyu (2,600 JPY (excl. tax) - 4,200 JPY (excl. tax)), as well as a variety of different unagi dishes. The recommended item is the Unatama Gozen (1,500 JPY (excl. tax)) that is only available at lunchtime. It is a popular, reasonably-priced dish of unagi kabayaki on top of rice cooked with fluffy eggs.

4. Osaka Unagi Gumi (Osaka)

1F Nihonshika Center Bldg.1F, 2-5-2, Sennichimae, Chuo-ku Osaka-shi, Osaka

5. Uoi Main Store (Osaka)

The main restaurant of Uoi maintains the traditional "Kansai style" method of grilling unagi without steaming. It is a well-established restaurant that was founded in 1867. The Unagi Kabayaki (1,650 JPY (incl. tax) - 3,300 JPY (incl. tax)), is an outstanding aromatic dish that is chargrilled at high temperature to achieve a crunchy and flakey exterior and fluffy and soft interior. The Unagino Shiroyaki (1,650 JPY (incl. tax) - 3,300 JPY (incl. tax)), which is cooked without sauce and eaten with wasabi and soy sauce, is also recommended.

5. Uoi Main Store (Osaka)

4-8-10 Takadono, Asahi-ku, Osaka-shi, Osaka

Unagi dishes are nutritious and perfect to fortify the body during the hot summer season. If you are going to be in the Kansai area during the summer, why not try some unagi?

*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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