Saturday, March 3, 2018

Uya: Live Unagi (River Eel) Specialty Restaurant in Wheelock Place, Singapore!

👍 Fresh, live, charcoal grilled eels; Manageable queue (for now).
👎 A little pricey.

Ever since we had terrific Unagi Don (grilled eel on rice) at Hitsumabushi Bincho in Ginza, we've been hankering for something similar back home in SG. Man Man Unagi, of course, is a prime candidate, but the never-ending queue is a high barrier to entry (for us).

So we were really happy to hear about a new(ish) Unagi specialty restaurant in town: Uya 四代目菊川 (Yondaime i.e. 4th generation Kikukawa) in Wheelock Place, and headed over to try it out!

Uya Unagi Eel Restaurant Singapore

Uya serves Nagoya-style Unagi, which is charcoal-grilled entirely, resulting in a crispier (but also slightly dryer) eel filet. It also keeps its eels live in the kitchen: No frozen / pre-cooked / pre-slaughtered nonsense here.

Uya Unagi Eel Restaurant Singapore

Unfortunately for us there was a short queue on a Friday night - but as it was just a five minute wait (or so) it's perfectly manageable.

Uya Unagi Eel Restaurant Singapore

We both opted for the Hitsumabushi Unagi Don (s$35 medium, but you can top up to s$48 for the entire fillet). "Hitsumabushi" doesn't specifically refer to eel - it's literally merely a combination of "Hitsu" (the wooden rice bowl) and "Mabushi" (To cover up rice) - but nowadays popularly refers to a particular style of eating a single bowl of Unagi Don (or Kaisen Don) in three different styles.

Uya Unagi Eel Restaurant Singapore Hitsumabushi Unagi Don

First - A closer look at the Unagi (apologies for the poor quality as we didn't have our cameras with us). As mentioned, the Nagoya style results in a crispier skin, but a somewhat less juicy/moist flesh, as compared to the Tokyo/Kanto style (which is steamed first before charcoal-grilling).

Uya Unagi Eel Restaurant Singapore Hitsumabushi Unagi Don

With the Hitsumabushi style of eating, you have your eel rice three (or four) ways:

1. On its own, without adding anything.
2. With some condiments - normally spring onion, wasabi, and dried seaweed.
3. With some soup - In this case a clear, refreshing dashi broth.
4. Whichever way you want.

Uya Unagi Eel Restaurant Singapore Hitsumabushi Unagi Don

Verdict: Absolutely delicious, although around s$43.50/pax after taxes and service isn't exactly cheap. Futhermore, adults of even slightly-above-average appetites might find the Medium-sized bowl to be somewhat insufficient, and therefore need to top up to the Large size (should be around s$58/pax). If that price tag is OK for you, though, what you do get for your money is delicious eel, expertly grilled, with just the right amount of sauce that has the perfect sweet-sticky-slightly salty balance. Oh, and (almost) no queue.

Uya is in the Wheelock Place mall (connected via underpass to Ion Orchard / Orchard MRT). Reservations not accepted.

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