Dig In: A New Spot for Live Eels in Robertson Quay

We check out this franchise from Tokyo’s 125-year-old Miyagawa Honten that’s new on Singapore’s live eel restaurant bandwagon.


Photo by Burppler Joe Yang

The rundown

Hopping on the bandwagon of live eel restaurants comes this franchise from Tokyo’s 125-year-old Miyagawa Honten — Singapore is its first overseas outpost. If you’re wondering if Unagiya Ichinoji's got the chops, we’re happy to share that their outlet in Meguro-ku was recently awarded the Bib Gourmand in MICHELIN Guide Tokyo 2018, AND that the Japanese chef heading the Singapore outlet spent three months training at Miyagawa in Japan to hone his skills.

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The vibe

Set in Robertson Quay, this is a compact, cosy space, so avoid this for large gatherings and visit with just a few unagi-loving friends. The counter seats look into the unagi grilling station — great if you like to watch the chef at work, but be prepared to sweat as the charcoal grill really heats things up. We highly suggest table seating (good for parties of four) instead. Service is efficient, food arrived quickly and the front of house staff are friendly, often suggesting the best ways to enjoy the dishes.

What’s good

The freshwater eels here are prepared the same way they do it at Miyagawa outlets — steamed, and then grilled. If you’ve dined at other unagi restaurants in Singapore, you will likely be familiar with the Hitsumabushi style of enjoying eels: divide the bowl into four portions; eat the first on its own, the second with seaweed, wasabi and green onion, the third with dashi and all the trimmings, and the fourth however way you like it best.


Photo by Burppler Muriel A

Compared to the other dish variations — Seiro Mushi (from $19.80), where the eel is grilled and then steamed with shredded and rice; and Mamushi Donburi (from $18.80), where the eel is served with yam, mentaiko, shredded egg and an onsen egg — we decided that the classic Hitsumabushi (from $19.80 for S, the XL at $77.80 a bowl can feed up to three) fares the best, and is really affordable too. The unagi is grilled multiple times over short periods while slicked with their inhouse tare (sweet basting sauce), resulting in flesh that’s super tender and void of unpleasant muddiness. We also like that the glaze is thin enough so the condiments we add really shone — try playing around with the sauces (spicy soy and soy) and peppers (aromatic sansho pepper and the tongue-numbing seven-spice kuro shichime) on the table too.