Unagiya Ichinoji: Unagi specialised restaurant opens in Robertson Quay

Following the success of Man Man Unagi, other restaurants have joined the bandwagon - choosing to dedicate their full menus to the delicacy. The newest addition to the list is Unagiya Ichinoji, a 34-seater restaurant located in Robertson Quay.

We suss out the 3 offerings to see how they stand up to the competition.

Hitsumabushi (small)
Hitsumabushi ($19.80 for S; $77.80 for size XL) is the signature dish served at Miyagawa's outlets in Tokyo. However, for the Singapore outlet, freshwater eels are specially imported 3 times a week from Kyoto, then freshly caught, slaughtered and marinated upon order. Served on Hokkaido white rice, the eels are then slathered with their special in-house sweet sauce before serving. Purely based on the initial aesthetics impression of the dish, the unagi was glistening with plumpness. Picking up a piece of eel revealed a different truth altogether - they weren't as plump as I thought they were. The crew was quick to clarify that this was due to the eels being of a different and new species.  Unfortunately for me, the unagi was far from the promised "crisp on the outside and moist on the inside" description they were bestowed with. In fact, the texture was quite one-dimensional, pedestrian in a sense that it was rather firm throughout with many tiny bones lurking in the midst, making it quite unpleasant to consume. Another gripe would be that the special housemade sauce tasted similar to a lighter version of shoyu, lacking seasoning required to highlight the unagi. However, the addition of the restaurant's homemade seven-peppers powder easily rectified the sauce's insufficiencies.

Seiro Mushi

Then there was the Seiro Mushi ($19.80), a dish that is exclusively served in the Singapore outlet. The Unagi is first charcoal grilled and then steamed in a bamboo steamer together with kinsi egg, rice and sweet sauce before serving. The steaming process, intended at giving the eel a softer texture while retaining its original flavours. Here's my thoughts: the steaming process did little for the texture of the unagi. In fact, if it weren't for the presentation in a bamboo steamer, I would not have been able to tell the difference between this and the other two offerings.

The chopped bed of egg was the only redeeming factor in the dish, the bamboo steamer imparting a pleasant fragrance. Also noteworthy was the sidekick of Chawanmushi - smooth, dissolving at the lightest touch. It was packed full of ingredients, crabmeat and kamaboko (Japanese fishcake) and finished with a small slice of Unagi. 

Mamushi Donburi

The Mamushi Donburi ($18.80) is another dish that is exclusively served in Singapore. Rice is topped with kinshi eggs, charcoal grilled eels and mentaiko, served with Japanese yam and onsen egg on the side. Mixing all the ingredients into the bowl produces a dish that was exploding with flavours, mainly from the combination of the mentaiko and the homemade sauce on the eel. Although the Japanese yam contributed little to the overall umami-ness of the dish, it gave the rice a slightly stick texture, a quality which may or may not be appreciated by the diner. It's subjective. I personally enjoyed this donburi the best, mainly due to the use of mentaiko and the onsen egg which elevated the overall makeup of the dish. 

Unagiya Ichinoji
#01-05 Riverside View
Robertson Quay
t: +65 6732 1970

Operating Hours:
Daily: 11 30am - 3pm; 5 30 - 10pm

Words and photos by Belinda Yong who wishes that every time of the day is food o' clock. She loves trying new cuisines and creations,  and prays hard for a higher metabolism.

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