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Sep 9, 2012 12:16 AM

Rustic Unagi Restaurant

Hi All,

Planning my annual culinary pilgrimage to Tokyo and am looking for recommendations for a rustic unagi restaurant. In past trips, I've been to both Chikuyotei and Nodaiwa (which I enjoyed immensely) but am looking for something a little more rustic. For instance, on a recent episode of No Reservations, Ivan of Ivan Ramen took Anthony Bourdain to a tiny unagi place that broke down the eel and served its various parts - liver, guts - in different dishes. Any idea where this place is located or where I could find places like it?

Also interested in other similar small restaurants dedicated to specific food items. For instance, is there a restaurant in Tokyo that is dedicated to the preparation of uni?

Any input would, as always, be greatly appreciated.



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  1. Not unagi, but anago kabayaki, which after you've had it at this little place, you will prefer it to unagi. Name of the place is Anago Tamai, in a little old house from the 1920s in Kanda.

    1. The restaurant on TV was:

      Jiyugaoka 1-11-5, Meguro-ku, Tokyo

      11 Replies
      1. re: anarcist

        Much thanks to both of you.

        Would you happen to know of any places that specialize in uni?

        1. re: BaronDestructo

          That is probably the best and most relevant (to me anyway) question posed on this board in awhile.

          A place specializing in Uni.

          My god I would be there in a second. Something like Soto in NYC only in Japan kind of thing. My mind will explode if someone knows of a place...

          1. re: Notorious P.I.G.

            I did a search for specialty uni restaurants (ウニ専門店) and as I suspected there really aren't any in Tokyo (at least that I can find online). I'm sure that's because uni isn't a local specialty or product, and seasonal, so you really can't drive a business featuring it if those two criteria are unpredictable. The one place that shows up multiple times is Uni Murakami in Hakodate and Sapporo.

            Actually, a search did turn up a place in Tokyo, a place called "Uni Dining -2ºC"
            However, all the links to the place don't seem to work, and it might have closed. Looking at the strange menu of pizzas, gratin dishes and such, I don't think that's what the OP had in mind.

            All the other pages are for online shopping from direct sources in either Hokkaido or Yamaguchi prefecture (around the Shimonoseki area). Coincidentally, I was on the Japan Sea side of Yamaguchi prefecture this weekend with family and enjoyed the seasonal uni-meshi and uni kamameshi. Prices for uni have gone up steadily in the past couple years, I'm told.

            I should also note that the price of unagi has seen a huge jump since last year because scarcity of domestic is driving up prices. Anago might be preferable, especially in Tokyo as it is a local edomae seafood.

            1. re: E Eto

              Thanks E Eto! Seems like a hard thing to find! I'll be on the Japan seaside in a couple months. Just in time for crab season. Looking forward to that!

              1. re: Notorious P.I.G.

                Generally, Tsukiji and Hokkaido maintain good relations for a long time for uni supply... and it comes by jet !! Good quality sea urchin, like 'ezomurasaki uni' is almost getting liquid in summer, so eaten a bit cold(not frozen) will be like eating soft ice cream !! But unfortunately, I could not discover yet any shop specialized on only 'uni’ ... Now, if you want to have some uni prepared differently, or sample 2 sorts of uni, that is possible ... but I think you had already a good opportunity in sushi Sawada for such sample and taste combination. 
                Just for a mid range sushi-yasan at lunch, try to put a bath of 'tare' and 'uni(ask for supplement)' in your ‘ikasomen’, at sushi Otaru Ginza :
                Unagi, oh, it is in fact difficult this year.. the wild unagi is getter harder to find. One speciality old house, one of the ‘shinise’ that remains after 200 years, is Unagi Kandagawa near Akihabara. It is better to reserve, there are only 2 rooms with tables, besides some tatami rooms. The omakase is at around  9000.-yens for dinner, but ‘a la carte’ is for the real connoisseur - order the ‘cheese aemono’, ‘uzuku’, ‘kimoyaki’ and ‘unaju’... Unaju takes 45mn as it is catch, roast on command... so you’d better order quickly before downing too much beer or sake. The sauce(tare) is clear, not that sweet and mild thing that is general found, with a drop of yuzu kosho, it will get the magic !!      

              2. re: E Eto

                LOL, I ran the same search and came up with the same results. I've been to Uni Murakami in Hakodate. It's really just a donburi-ya and not "cuisine" like composed dishes. We usually order fresh uni from mail order for end of the year celebrations. One of my friends ordered some recently and made himself uni spaghetti. Looks pretty damn tasty...

                  1. re: Silverjay

                    It does look great. On previous trips, I've enjoyed uni tempura at several restaurants, a variety of uni sashimis at Sawada, and a terrific uni spaghettini at Tableaux (way back when). It's a shame there's no dedicated restaurant along the lines of the unagi-ya's we've been discussing.

                    1. re: BaronDestructo

                      I wonder if anyone knows the history of uni eating in Japan. I ask because my impression is that it wasn't highly regarded as a food until fairly recently, just as maguro/toro has become a highly revered fish in the mid-20th century. My understanding is that uni was seen as a ocean pest that ate away at the much more prized nori in the coastal waters, and were mostly shooed away or eaten as a way to save the precious nori. (BTW, the reproduction of the nori species was discovered also in the post-war period by a British scientist, which paved the way to nori farms; prior to that, it was only grown in the "wild"). So unlike unagi, which has been revered for centuries, I don't think there has been an historical craft/artisanal element to uni as a culinary tradition. People love it now, but it wasn't always the case. That would probably explain why there's no uni specialty restaurant, except for novel joints like I linked to earlier.

                  2. re: E Eto

                    And this is what rustic looks like in Yamaguchi prefecture... a DIY uni-meshi lunch teishoku. Specifically at a shokudo near the docks in Nagato, where uni is harvested along the coast.

                    1. re: E Eto

                      That also looks great! A loosely packed tray to yourself, amazing.

            2. if budget is not a concern, kabuto in ikebukuro is supposed to be the best unagi restaurant in tokyo.


              it does look very rustic but the price is not. they serve both farmed and wild eel and usually everyone orders omakase. he would let you compare the difference between the two. loved different parts of "guts" of the fish. was a pretty nice meal but not sure i would pay 12000yen+/head for another unagi meal though.

              1 Reply
              1. re: japanesefoodlover

                I'm only in Tokyo two weeks a year so, yeah, I think I will splurge. Thanks for the tip.

              2. btw, just in case anyone is interested. una fuji in nagoya is imo the best unagi restaurant, anywhere.

                2 Replies
                1. re: japanesefoodlover

                  A google search for una fuji, is only leading me to your posts. Would you be able to help the Japanese-impaired with an address and approximate costs at lunch and dinner, japanesefoodlover?

                  1. re: JacksonH


                    1-1-4 Shirokane, Shouwa-ku, nagoya. i usually take a cab from kaneyama station and i think it costs around 8-900yen. never been for lunch but dinner costs around 5-6000yen pp. (i think lunch is the same price though)

                    hitsumabushi, YUMMY!!