The Place We thought that the unagi food trend will perhaps stop after Uya Singapore opened at Wheelock Place early this year, but not quite so. Unagiya Ichinoji is the latest unagi specialty restaurant to open at Robertson Quay, managed by the team behind Japan’s Miyagawa Honten. This is one of Tokyo’s renowned unagi restaurant which has a history of 125 years. The first outlet was at Tsukiji in Tokyo, and it has expanded to 20 outlets across Japan since. This is also the first time an original unagi specialty restaurant from Japan is opening a store in Singapore.
The outlet at Robertson Quay is not big, a mere 34-seater restaurant. In the middle of the restaurant is the kitchen, separated by glass panels where you can watch the chefs at work. Go for the counter seats if you prefer to watch the unagi grilling process!
The Food Unagi here are served in 3 different styles – Hitsumabushi (S$19.80 for small size), Seiro Mushi (S19.80) and Mamushi Donburi (S$18.80), with both the Seiro Mushi and Mamushi Donburi exclusively available to Singapore’s Unagiya Ichinoji. The eels here are from a farm in Indonesia, and prepared the same way as Japan, where it is first steamed, then grilled.
The first style I tried is the Hitsumabushi version, a Nagoya style of having unagi. The freshwater eel can be enjoyed on its own with the Hokkaido rice, with dashi, or with the addition of condiments like nori, wasabi and green onion. The texture of the unagi is chewy, and the sweet tare sauce is quite pronounced. My gripe is that it could be slightly more charred to give it that extra char flavour. If you find that the flavour is too light for your preference, there are sweet and spicy sauces along with chilli powder and sansho pepper at each table which you can add to the rice and unagi. My favourite way of having the Hitsumabushi is to add some of the condiments and the dashi broth.
There is also an XL size available at S$77.80, which can serve about 2-3 persons.
Another style of having unagi here is the Seiro Mushi (S$19.80), which is a special version hailing from Yanagawa, Fukuoka, where the charcoal grilled unagi is steamed in a bamboo steamer along with kinshi egg and rice after mixing with sweet sauce. You can also opt to have this set with an additional Unagi Chawanmushi (S$24.80 instead of S$19.80). Served in the same bamboo which is used to steam the unagi, I find the flavour of this unagi dish to be relatively bland on its own, and I recommend having it along with extra sweet or spicy sauce. Fret not as the spicy sauce at each table is quite mild.
The classic donburi, Mamushi Donburi (S$18.80) is served with Japanese yam, mentaiko, kinshi eggs and onsen egg. The best way to have this in my opinion is to have the rice with bits of the kinshi eggs and onsen egg for the best flavour.
The rice is brown here, similar to the Seiro Mushi as it has already been mixed with sweet sauce before serving. I’m not that big fan of the Japanese yam, which I am glad is served in a separate side plate instead of being mixed with the rice. I reckon that this rendition should be a popular favourite amongst Singaporeans. You can also opt to have this set with the Unagi Chawanmushi (S$23.80 instead of S$18.80).
Other dishes available include Unagi Chawanmushi, Unagi Bone Cracker, Unagi Sushi Roll, Unagi Omelette, Unagi Salad and Unagi Simmered Boiled Liver.
Rants The restaurant may feel slightly cramped for most, with its small space. The restaurant has no plans to take reservations for a start as well.
Will I Return Again? For S$18.80, you can enjoy the Mamushi Donburi. It should be one of the most value for money unagi option in town at the moment. The primary winning edge of Unagiya Ichinoji over other unagi restaurants like Man Man Japanese Unagi Restaurant or Uya Singapore is its competitive prices for a freshwater eel experience.
This was an invited tasting, though all opinions expressed are our own.
Taste bud: 3.5/5
Hole in the pocket: 3/5
Overall Experience: 3.5/5
#01-05 Riverside View
30 Robertson Quay
Tel: +65 6732 1970
Daily: 11.30am to 3pm; 5.30pm to 10pm
Ranted by The Ranter