Like any other eel house, Nodaiwa serves two types of unagi—Kabayaki (basted with tantalizing tare and broiled till caramelized brown) or Shirayaki (lightly steamed, grilled and served with shoyu at the side). I was surprised that there are so many version unagi sets even though the main star was just unagi. The basic unagi-ju box comes in four sizes and one can choose the style of unagi he/she prefers. All unagi sets come with pickles and kimo-jiru (unagi liver soup). We skipped the basic ones and picked the kasane, dual-layer unagi box (5040 yen) because it offers a taste of both styles of unagi. It has been said that the shirayaki aka white-grilled is for the diehard unagi purists though I find that it can get boring after a while with the shoyu.
But what appealed to a first-timer like me for the shirayaki style was that I could finally be enlightened by the true texture and flavor of unagi, unconcealed with a delectable and aromatic surface crust. Still, I crave towards the Kabayashi style, for it was juicier, sweeter but not drenched in sauce. I never come across O-naka-ire (3990 yen) in Singapore. It resembles a unagi don, but is a luxurious version of 4 layers (rice-unagi-rice-unagi) prepared in Kabayaki style. We love the unagi here so much that we ordered more as ala-carte, only to be pleased further when it was served in a metallic lacquerbox that keeps the unagi warm.
While Nodaiwa has demonstrated its expertise in unagi, it seems to have a knack for chicken cuisine when it serves up a hearty bowl of oyakodon (1575 yen). One might have to wait longer than usual for the eel, because effort and care is devoted towards grilling the fish. Though it is not the season for wild-caught eels, it did not matter much to us because the fillets of Shizuoka freshwater eels were juicy and delicious. At least they did not import them from other countries.
Eel does not come cheap nowadays so if you are thinking on splurging on some for your trip, Nodaiwa is a worthy one.
Closing up on the Onaka Ire (Eel-rice-eel-rice)
Kasane (2 types of eel with rice)
Ala carte order of Shirayaki Eel
Simple yet beautiful custard puddingNodaiwa 麻布野田岩
1-5-4 Higashiazabu, Minato, Tokyo 106-0044
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