Unagiya Hirokawa is a legendary Eel institution in Kyoto. Aside from the surreal Bamboo Forest, it seems like one must visit traditional eel (Unagi in Japanese) specialist Unagiya Hirokawa when making a trip to Arashiyama. Established in 1967, it is housed in a charming contemporary “Sukiya” (wooden architecture) style building.
For our visit, we arrived half hour early before the opening time of 11.30am and there was a short queue. Thank goodness we managed to get the first seating. It was a cold morning and our hands were frozen and stiff while waiting. To our complete surprise, we got our own spacious room facing a little fountain – yayyyy! Kyoto, we love you. We were relaxed in no time and decided to splurge on a 7800 yen per person Course C which came with five courses. Although every course was good and we left satisfied and filled to the brim, I thought the acclaimed eel portion was too small and I will return for a bigger eel rice bento.
Course C began with Koi no arai – half boiled fresh carp. Almost like a sashimi except it’s flash boiled in hot water. Served with soy sauce and wasabi, the texture was firm and bouncy with a fresh taste.
Next up Kimoyaki – Grilled eel liver in a skewer. The fatty, rounded texture of the eel liver was wonderfully grilled. Paired with the thick seasoned sauce that came with it which helped cut the heavy “livery” taste which was a tad hard to swallow for me.
Next up, huge stone pots of Yanagawa – Boiled loaches in broth, leeks and scrambled eggs.
In the cold weather, this was a comforting, hearty winter dish with a bite of the fish simmering in bubbling hot broth.
Plump bouncy meat!
Next up (and finally) the pièce de résistance Unajyu – Grilled smoky eel with an undeniable charcoal-burnt smell. However I wished the eel could have been plumper like the superb ones from Tomi Sushi and the portion could have been bigger. The rice was a different story. Man, it was so addictive I finished the whole bowl with no regrets.
Dessert Tofu Pudding with Mandarin Orange – wow! Silky smooth pudding that danced in our mouth contrasting by the slightly tangy sweet orange pulp. What a beautiful end to the meal.
Unagiya Hirokawa うなぎ屋 廣川