The Japanese freshwater eel known as unagiis most popularly served as unaju,marinated eel over rice served in a box, or unadon,grilled eel over rice in a bowl, but there are countless other ways to prepare this freshwater delicacy. Try out the tastiest unagi in Tokyo at one of these top restaurants.
Restaurant, Japanese, $$$
Inageya is rumored to be a favorite haunt of famous actors and artists when the unagi craving hits. Inageya’s classic unaju comes in the traditional lacquered box, perfect for an authentic unagi experience. Find Inageya in Bunkyo ward near Nishi-nippori station. Closed Wednesdays.
The extensive menu at this upscale sushi restaurant includes unagi sushi and skewers, though the eel is cooked thoroughly according to health recommendations. Kyubey is an ideal option for those who’d like to taste unagi before ordering it as a main course elsewhere. Find Kyubey in Ginza, near Ginza or Shimbashi stations.
Kawaei is one of the most famous unagi specialists in Tokyo. The method for making their light and soft eel starts with the selection process where only the best eels are chosen. The cooking method, passed down through generations since the restaurant opened back in 1946, requires precision timing. Expect to pay around 2,500 yen for lunch and 5,000 yen for dinner. Kawaei sits in Akabane.
Nodaya is a casual restaurant where unagi is the specialty all day, every day. Nodaya imports their eels from Shizuoka prefecture, which is a specialty of the region. Try the classic unaju made with Kyosui Unagi that is braised for two years, giving it a unique texture and flavor you won’t find anywhere else. Nodaya opened in 1868, and it has been serving up tasty eel dishes for around 50 years.
Izumoya, a traditionally styled, two-story Japanese restaurant, is known for its high-quality eels and classic unagi cooking. While unagi is their specialty, and the famous grilled eel over rice is the most popular dish—especially during the summer months—Izumoya has many other non-eel-based Japanese dishes on the menu.
“Hitsumabushi” is Nagoya-style unagi over rice. The eel is grilled whole, using the method of cooking popularized in Nagoya, and served with condiments such as wasabi and nori (seaweed), which can be mixed with a portion of the unagi and rice in a separate dish. Hitsumabushi Bincho sits a short walk from Ginza-itchome station.
This highly-rated unagi restaurant in Minami-senju is well known among unagi enthusiasts, and wait times at peak hours can be an hour or longer. Despite Obana’s popularity, each dish is still cooked fresh to order, maintaining the integrity and quality for which the restaurant is known. It sits just a short walk from Minami-senju station.