There is that charm finding that hole-in-the-wall restaurant in the streets of Japan, but I am not entirely sure if the same principle applies to shops within malls in Singapore.
Unagi-specialty restaurant Unazen is located at the basement of Takashimaya Shopping Centre – one of the hottest spots in town, but has a nondescript entrance.
I took one peek inside and saw an empty restaurant, but I was quite game to give it a try (except that I should give the menu a closer inspection in retrospective).
Unfortunately, not all the unagi restaurants survived in Singapore. So did Unazen arrive slightly too late?
This is a sister restaurant to next-door Tampopo known for its Tonkastsu and Kurobuta dishes (was a fan when it was at Liang Court back then).
The signature Hitsumabushi priced at $55.80++ possibly places it at the upper tier in terms of price point when compared to similar Unagi speciality restaurants.
Other items include Seiro Mushi Combo ($45.80) with kabayaki and kurobuta kauni; and Unagi Gozen Set ($80) which includes two appetisers, Unagi Shirayaki, an Unagi main dish, matcha ice cream and green tea.
There are also lunch specials with the more affordable items being the Seiro Mushi ($28.80) and Unazen Special Unadon ($35.80). I did have to flip the menu up and down to really decide what to order.
The Hitsumabushi ($55.80) was prepared using a less than 1-year old Unagi from Japan, grilled over binchotan charcoal so that it would be crispy on the outside and plump on the inside.
It is recommended to eat this in three ways: eat as it is, with Japanese herbs, then Ochazuke style with dashi stock poured in.
To be honest, not as crispy as I would have liked it to be, and the eel had a slight ‘fishy’ taste.
Surprisingly, I much preferred the more affordable alternative box of Seiro Mushi B ($32.80).
This included slices of unagi prepared kabayaki style – butterflied, dipped in a sweet soy sauce-based sauce and grilled, Japanese braised pork belly which was melt-in-the-mouth tender, and tamago egg strips.
391 Orchard Road, #B2-33 Takashimaya Shopping Centre, (beside Tampopo Basement 2), Singapore 238872
Opening Hours: 11am – 3pm, 5pm – 9pm (Mon – Sun)