The Place Unagi is still a fairly neglected Japanese dining concept even after the huge success of Man Man Japanese Unagi Restaurant, hence when we heard that a brand new unagi concept has opened at Wheelock Place in Orchard, it aroused our interests greatly. Meet the few days old Uya Singapore, a live unagi dining concept similar to Man Man, but think of it as a more ‘atas’ version. We learnt from their staff that Uya is in fact a local collaboration with an experienced unagi distributor from Nagoya, Japan.
My first impression of the dining space is the zen-ness. It does feel like I am in Japan for a few moments before reality strikes. Decked in mainly wood furnishings, there are pockets of private dining space at the sides of the restaurant where there is a squarish communal table at the middle with a tree to resemble a garden-like ambience.
The Food The main highlight of Uya is its live unagi, which means you are in for a fresh treat. The source of supply for the unagi is seasonal, where we had unagi from Taiwan during our visit. There is a glass panel at the front of the restaurant where you can watch the chefs in action.
There are a few options for the unagi at Uya, and we went straight for its signature Hitsumabushi (S$35/medium, S$48/large) which is one of the most traditional way of having the eel. The sliced unagi is served with dashi broth, miso soup and pickles. There are different ways of enjoying this dish – having the unagi as it is, adding the condiments like wasabi, spring onion and nori to it, or make Ochazuke (rice with soup) with the condiments and dashi broth.
Suffice to say, the unagi is really very fresh. The sweetness of the tare sauce which glazed the unagi is just right for me, while the texture is also perfect. It tastes very good on its own. Another noteworthy mention is the Niigata rice which is delicious on its own with the tare sauce.
My other preferred way is to add wasabi, spring onion and nori to the rice and mix it along with the unagi.
Other than unagi, there are also options like tempura bowl and sashimi. We also tried the Sashimi Rice Bowl (S$23), served with salad and pickles. Most of the sashimi is from Japan while salmon is from Norway. The presentation is quite pretty and colourful with the nicely chopped mix of sashimi to decorate the wooden plate. Needless to say, it is a fresh sashimi rice bowl though there is not much surprise here.
Rants Not all the staff here knows about the restaurant beyond the menu. We tried to enquire more about the establishment, only to be informed by a staff that no one has briefed her yet, and without any hesitation, she left the table. Period.
Will I Return Again? I love the unagi here at Uya. Service is something which takes time and I hope that Uya can achieve Japanese service standards in time to come. Otherwise, the Japanese vibes and unagi are just some reasons for me to be back. Uya would give Man Man a run for its money, I think.
Taste bud: 4/5
Hole in the pocket: 4/5
Overall Experience: 4/5
501 Orchard Road
#02-15/16 Wheelock Place
Tel: +65 6732 1096
Daily 11.30am to 3pm; 6pm to 10pm
Ranted by The Ranter