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Sep 5, 2006 11:38 PM

fresh unagi in SF?

(Did a search, but didn't find much in terms of results)

Are there any restaurants in SF that serve fresh unagi? After having non-packaged unagi in Japan, the pre-packaged stuff that everyone here seems to use just pales in comparison. Throwing a pre-packaged eel in a toaster oven doesn't count as fresh.

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  1. Not that I've found so far. Nothing like Yasdua's (NYC) fresh unagi or fresh anago in my search so far. Kappa looks like it may but not when I was there.

    1. KK has reported fresh anago at Sakae in Burlingame from time to time.


        Alternatively, might be worthwhile to try the imported Japanese unagi (not sourced to unagi farms in China) at your local Japanese supermarket (Nijiya, one in SF J-town, comes to mind). There should be two varieties, a little steep at $12.99 to $14.99 a pack, from different prefectures in Japan. One type called shimantoh, I think. Prepackaged kabayaki, but I'm sure it will be decent if grilled (don't use the microwave or toaster oven).

        2 Replies
        1. re: K K

          I shop at Nijiya periodically, and the packaged stuff just isn't the same, no matter how you cook it (I suppose grilling would taste somewhat better than microwaving it). The thing is the fresh ones I had weren't bathed/soaked in sauce, so they actually taste like fish/eel. I suppose one could try rinsing the sauce off.... They're as different as a filet-o-fish is to a fillet of fresh snapper. The other thing was instead of grilling/toaster-ovening them, they used a blow torch. Sounds a little Tim Allen-ish, but it was damn tasty.

          1. re: tobze

            Ahhh thanks for clarifying. I know exactly what you are saying, and I've had fresh eel before in Japan and Hong Kong (the avg place in Hong Kong uses grades of eel that tastes so fishy and has so many bones that I wonder if I got the mudskipper without legs instead with sauce, or just a low grade eel that's not $50 a box vacuum packed in a Japanese department store basement).

            No matter where you go in the Bay Area (for any Japanese restaurant), prepackaged unagi kabayaki is pretty much what you will get (with maybe a few minor exceptions).

            Sushi Sam's (in San Mateo) "special" Japanese unagi shirayaki sushi (no sauce) would then match what you are looking for then.

            I suppose any Shanghainese restaurant that has the eel with yellow chive (stir fry) dish on the menu might offer something that tastes a little more fishy to suit that taste.

        2. The little mom-and-pop Japanese restaurant without a sign near the corner of Carl and Coe had the BEST unagi I have had anywhere - and I have unagi everywhere! That was a couple of years ago though.