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Kitashirakawa (北白川), a New Grilled Eel Restaurant (鰻), Opened in Nagatacho, Tokyo

  • delicious Japan
  • April 16, 2024

Eel (Unagi) is an ingredient that is said to be essential to Japanese food culture. “Glaze-grilled eel,” known as “Kabayaki,” also represents Japanese food culture. Japanese people started to eat eel during the Jomon period. The Jomon period lasted for over 10,000 years, beginning around 13,000 BC, and during the Heian period (794-1185), eels were eaten as a nutritious food to increase stamina, becoming very popular. “Kabayaki” is packed with a lot of Japanese culture. Mass production in factories and eating easily and quickly has become possible recently. However, for Japanese people, eating “Kabayaki” at an eel restaurant is a treat for special occasions.

Do you know there are two eel cooking styles, Kanto-style and Kansai-style?
An open back with no head attached characterizes a Kanto-style eel. People say that during the Samurai era in Edo, where the samurai society was, opening the belly was associated with “seppuku or hara-kiri,” so they hated it and became “separate'.”
When grilling, the eel is steamed once and then grilled, which removes excess fat and results in a tender eel. The steaming time varies depending on the quality of the eel, so the cooking time also differs depending on the steaming time.

Kitashirakawa stands out with its unique grilling style, known as “Jiyaki," which concentrates the flavor of the eel without steaming it. This rare method of grilling eel in Tokyo results in a unique texture and deliciousness, with crispy skin and fluffy flesh. In addition to the signature glaze-grilled eel, the restaurant offers a highly anticipated steamed eel, a local dish from Yanagawa, Fukuoka. Come and savor the “eel” in a space adorned with British antique furniture, a testament to the owner's meticulous care.

Watch the video on how to grill eels.

Grilled eel “kabayakiju” (left) and Fukuoka specialty steamed eel (right)

A three-in-one Team Operates Kitashirakawa

I sampled Kabayakiju and Seiromushi (steamed eel) before the store's opening on April 15th. The taste was unmistakably delicious. What impressed me even more about the quality of this restaurant was the excellent working team of three people, led by Proprietress (女将/Okami) Yoshie Okumura, Master Chef Minoru Nagakubo, and Manager Narihiro Oishi. The woman who runs an inn or restaurant is called a “landlady (Okami).'' The restaurant proprietress, Yoshie-san, most recently served as an assistant proprietress for six years at a facility set up by a listed company and is a genuinely stable and well-balanced Okami. Master chef Nagakubo has worked at many restaurants serving eel dishes and is well-versed in local grilling and Kanto-style kabayaki. Narihiro Oishi, who is only 29 years old, is responsible for the restaurant's external PR and promotions and the restaurant’s menu. Through conversations with these three, I became convinced that this three-in-one team is the best team to ensure the future development and expansion of Kitashirakawa. Visit Kitashirakawa and enjoy not only the taste of the eel but also the service and quality provided by these three professionals!

Okami, Yoshie Okumura

Master Chef, Minoru Nagakubo

Manager, Narihiro Oishi

Restaurant Overview
  • Restaurant name: Kitashirakawa (北白川)
  • Location: 1-11-28 Nagatacho, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo (Directly from Exit 3 of Nagatacho Station of the Hanzomon Subway Line)
  • Open: 11:30-21:00 (L.O. 20:15)
  • Tel: 03-6206-7476
  • https://unakita.jp/