People have been talking about Man Man Unagi Restaurant ever since the Japanese restaurant in Keong Saik Road started operations in October 2016 and even more so after it earned a spot in Singapore Michelin Guide’s Bib Gourmand list.
Knowing that the queue can easily be 70-people long, I was lucky to arrive an hour before their morning closing time to no queue at all! Being a single diner has its perks, I was quickly shown to a counter seat overlooking the eel preparation area. The eel
Man Man Unagi Restaurant uses eels from Isshiki town in Aichi Prefecture’s Mikawa province, which is well-known for rearing freshwater eels. The eels are kept in this black water tank and freshly prepared to maintain freshness of the meat.
The prime seats in the restaurant are the counter seats overlooking the kitchen where you get to see a live demonstration of the cutting and gutting of the eel. This is definitely not for the faint-hearted, but the display of Japanese craftsmanship is an experience like no other.
The cleaned white meat of the eel is held together by 5 skewers and laid over a bed of white coals. The eels are flipped every few minutes and dipped in a vault of special house-made tare glaze made of soy sauce, mirin and brown sugar. The eels are cooked for 15 minutes under strong heat to give its skin that nice charred taste.
Hitsumabushi [$29.50+] comes with a bowl of seaweed soup, a small plate of Japanese pickles, a jar of broth, chopped spring onions and nori seaweed, and a stick of fresh wasabi. The recommended way is to eat it in 3 portions:
1. Scoop up some eel and rice, garnish with nori seaweed and spring onions.
2. Scoop up some eel and rice, add in grated wasabi, sauce (choice of sweet, normal or spicy) and Japanese spice mixture is known as shichimi.
3. Scoop up some eel and rice, add in dashi stock.
The char-broiled eel is oh-so-tender it literally melts in your mouth, while the skin has the distinctive charred smokiness. The combination of the soft flesh and crispy skin makes it so irresistible. Now I understand why I see so many people ordering Large Hitsumabushi [$39.40].
I have had unagi don at Nezameya, a popular unagi speciality restaurant just outside Fushi-Inari Taisha and I can safely say that Man Man Unagi Restaurant’s hitsumabushi is every bit as good.
Man Man Unagi Restaurant
Address: 1 Keong Saik Road, Singapore 089109
Opening Hours: Daily 11.30am – 2.30pm; 6pm – 10pm (Closed on Sundays)