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Food

Unaemon: Soft Kanto-Style Grilled Unagi At New Japanese Enclave In The CBD

Last Updated: July 3, 2019

Written by Christabel Tan

Singaporeans adore unagi. There aren’t that many speciality unagi restaurants around, so new entrants are always welcome.

Enter Unaemon.

Gochi Unaemon Unagi 1

Unaemon was established in 1950 in Japan, co-founded by the owner of 147-year-old unagi specialty restaurant Taga and the third owner of historical Yokohama unagi restaurant Kiyoizumi.

Housed in GOCHI, a Japanese gourmet enclave in close proximity to both Raffles Place and Telok Ayer MRT, Unaemon is proving to be a hit with the CBD lunch crowd.

Gochi Unaemon Unagi 2

All six concepts follow the same theme of wooden furnishings and warm lighting.

Gochi Unaemon Unagi 3

Like most Japanese speciality restaurants, there is adequate seating but not a ton of space.

After all, customers rarely linger during lunch, and the place gets slightly quieter at dinnertime.

Gochi Unaemon Unagi 4

The embellished teaware arrangements, including teapots for customers, are all imported from Japan.

Gochi Unaemon Unagi 5

A few traditional Japanese art pieces line the walls, and those treasured teapots are everywhere.

Gochi Unaemon Unagi 17

I got to take a peek at a slippery shipment of live eels. They are delivered directly to Unaemon once a week, so freshness is guaranteed.

Gochi Unaemon Unagi 6

The Kanto-style preparation method starts off with the eels being slit, butterflied and then grilled over hot charcoal. The chefs, two of which are based in Singapore, proceed to steam, season and grill the unagi three times.

Gochi Unaemon Unagi 9

Although the classic Unaju (S$32/S$36) is a popular lunch option, we got to try the medium-sized Hitumabushi (S$33). This is chopped unagi on rice served with broth, soup, pickles, and egg custard.

The Hitumabushi set is a little more elaborate, but it’s nothing new if you’ve dined at other speciality unagi restaurants.

Gochi Unaemon Unagi 7

We started off with a silky chawanmushi.

Gochi Unaemon Unagi 8

No fuss, no drama, just a smooth and clean-tasting custard that certainly whetted the appetite.

On to the main attraction! There are three steps to enjoying a Hitumabushi.

Gochi Unaemon Unagi 11

Most of us are more familiar with Kansai-style unagi, the kind doused in sauce and looks all glossy and glistening.

Unaemon takes a more natural approach with its Kanto-style unagi, yielding soft, tender and lightly glazed meat.

Gochi Unaemon Unagi 12

We first savoured the unagi with the complementary Nanatsuboshi rice from Hokkaido, unadon-style.

The crisp skin I typically enjoy was absent, enabling me to shift my focus towards the bold freshness of the lightly charred unagi. What goes into the premium sauce is a secret of course, but sake from Kumamoto is involved.

Eat with caution, since your unagi may contain tiny bones.

Gochi Unaemon Unagi 16

The unagi was rejuvenated by a sprinkling of fresh ao sansyo pepper sourced from Kōchi Prefecture. This unique spice had a fragrance of lime that left a minty and mildly numbing sensation in my mouth.

Gochi Unaemon Unagi 10

Moving on, it was time to add in the condiments.

Gochi Unaemon Unagi 13

I don’t need to say much about the seaweed and spring onions, but the freshly chopped wasabi came as a pleasant surprise. Crunchy, sour and salty, the wasabi left me without a nose-tingling burn.

Still, a little goes a long way, especially if you’re not used to taking wasabi.

The soup on the side is served as a delicate palate cleanser in between mouthfuls of rich unagi and rice, and it was much appreciated.

Gochi Unaemon Unagi 14

Lastly, we finished off with ochazuke, by pouring the broth into a bowl of unagi-topped rice.

It was transformed into comforting unagi “porridge” by the Shizuoka Yaitsu bonito and Hokkaido Hidaka kelp broth.

Best enjoyed on a wintry evening in Japan, although I can’t say I experience that often.

Gochi Unaemon Unagi 15

The ochazuke was such a light, heartwarming end to the meal.


It all comes down to personal preference. If you prefer a softer, less heavy unagi that’ll leave you feeling satisfied yet refreshed, give Unaemon a go. They might even be rolling out an unagi shabu-shabu in the future, and that I’ve got to try.

Also, if you don’t work in the CBD, I suggest coming down during non-peak hours.

Expected Damage: S$35 – S$40 per pax

Price: $ $

Our Rating: 4 / 5

Unaemon

23 Church Street, Capital Square, Gochi, #01-08, Singapore 049481

Price
Our Rating 4/5

Unaemon

23 Church Street, Capital Square, Gochi, #01-08, Singapore 049481

Operating Hours: 11.30am – 3pm & 5pm – 10pm (Mon- Sat), Closed on Sun

Operating Hours: 11.30am – 3pm & 5pm – 10pm (Mon- Sat), Closed on Sun

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