Those who don’t wish to endure the 1-hour queue at the hyper-popular Man Man Unagi can now opt to go to Uya, a more upmarket albeit more expensive grilled eel restaurant. Uya’s rendition has subtler (not as sweet) flavours compared to Man Man Unagi’s.
However, I still would recommend booking ahead. For walk-in customers, be forewarned that the restaurant which I estimate to be around 30-pax capacity (?), does fill up pretty quickly, so try to be there at the opening minute.
Uya’s eels are live, swimming in fish tanks mostly obscured in the kitchen behind - one catches glimpses of the tanks at the flip of the noren curtain as wait-staff enter the dining room bearing trays of grlled unagi and its accompaniments.
I ordered two appetisers:
Juicy fresh oysters, wrapped in sweet-smelling shiso leaves and cloaked in crisp, golden-brown batter, deep-fried a la minute.
Grilled eel livers
These were rather toothsome morsels, marinated in sweet soy and grilled to a glossy perfection.
- Next, the main event - grilled unagi served up four ways, or Hitsumabushi, Nagoya-style. The fresh eels, flown in weekly from Japan, were deboned, grilled and served atop rice. Diners were given little instruction notes on how to enjoy their meal:
My fave option is to pour hot dashi broth over the rice and eels, together with the pickles, nori seaweed flakes and condiments, then consume it like ochazuke (rice broth). The light broth takes the (sometimes overwhelming) sweetness out of the eel marinade, rendering it just perfect for my palate.
Amazing flavours, I feel hungry now recalling the meal. Need to make a return visit soon.
Uya Japanese Unagi Restaurant ( 四代目菊川)
501 Orchard Road
#02-15/16 Wheelock Place
Tel: +65 6732 1096
Opening hours: 12 noon-2.30pm, 6pm-9.30pm, daily