Thursday, September 15, 2016

Japan: Atsuta Horaiken Restaurant, Nagoya

As I child, I cringed at the sight of eels being randomly selected from a sardine packed eel only aquarium and being slit opened after an order is placed. Such was a sight that had petrified me as a child and I was adamant on not putting any on my palate.

Until I tried out unagi aka the Japanese method of preparing eel flesh. I was hooked onto the slightly sweet charred taste of the sauce used to coat the meat and soon after, overcame my fear of eating eels.

I have read that Nagoya is well known for its "eel three ways" aka Hitsumabushi bowl and insisted to the sister that we both try it out for ourselves and see if its well worth the hype. Atsuta Horaiken Honten is the original creators of this dish and is still being made, probably more popular than ever with the aid of social media.

There are two outlets in Nagoya, one being the original spot near the Atsuta temple and the other, right in the middle of the city inside a shopping mall along Otsu Dori. Be sure not to miss this!

As per the instruction card placed on each table, 1/4 of the bowl is consumed on its own without any sauce or soup whilst the other 1/4 is mixed with the provided seasoning, 1/4 with the seasoning and broth and the last 1/4 of the bowl is enjoyed in whichever method preferred.

The eel had one of the best caramelized sauce to accompany it and was extremely soft to taste. Served atop a bowl of steaming hot rice,a bowl of broth made out of eel bones and sauce dish containing wasabi, shredded seaweed and chopped spring onions. Extremely worth the hustle to get to this place and while there's really not one method to suit every palate, I liked mine with the seasoning as it allowed the subtle aroma of the unagi to appear more dominant and indirectly, upped its textural profile with a bit more crunch and peppery taste from the wasabi.

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