Grilled eel, called unagi no kabayaki in Japanese, is a popular dish in Japan. Kabayaki is a cooking method unique to Japan where you slice open eels to remove their bones and broil them with sweet and salty sauce made from soy sauce and mirin until brown.
Japanese food was registered as a UNESCO’s world intangible cultural heritage in December, 2013. Among the food included, Kabayaki or broiled eel is a traditional food unique to Japan. Japanese people were already eating eels in the Jomon period and they were popular as a nutritious food that gave people energy during the Heian period.
It is said that the Kabayaki method was first used during the Edo period. Sharp knives, fermented seasoning such as soy sauce and mirin and the skills of the professional cooks that make full use of these… Kabayaki is filled with history. Kabayaki is now being mass produced at factories, which makes it easier for people to eat it, but Kabayaki eaten at a specialist eel restaurant is a ritual for Japanese to enjoy on a special day or for a celebration.
Matsukawa is located in Shibuya in Tokyo, the center of a big city, but they have Tateba (a facility to keep eels alive), so they can serve fresh eels at any time. They also have a variety of eel dishes including Shirayaki (eels broiled without sauce), Umaki (Kabayaki wrapped in Japanese omelette) and Yanagawa-jitate (Kabayaki cooked in soy sauce with eggs and burdock).
As they say in Japan, it takes 3 years for skewering, 8 years for slicing, entire life for broiling, acquiring skills to cook eels is very difficult. At Matsukawa, specialized eel chefs cook live eels every time an order comes in. They slice open an eel that is actively wriggling in a blink of time, skewer it and broil it up. See it in YouTube.
What’s served in their original Arita ware bowl is the rare “Kyosui Eel”. This is an eel brand carefully and slowly raised in Yaizu City, Shizuoka Prefecture, using the pure water of Oi River whose water comes from South Alps. Kyosui eels have milky and light fat which gives a refined flavor. 贅を尽くしたうな丼《極》Ultimate Selection “Kiwami” was served with full length eels, while 贅を尽くしたうな丼 《匠》”Takumi” serving was just a portion.
Wash all these down with the Kimosui (eel liver soup). This is one thing that is not served in Unagi shops outside Japan.
22-1 Udagawacho, 渋谷区 Tokyo 150-0042, Japan
Date Visited : Jul 2017