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August 1, 2021

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Authentic unagi makes you think you’re in Japan

THE annual Unagi Day (Japanese eel day) fell on July 28 this year.

The traditional eel-eating day known as the Day of the Ox is a unique tradition in Japan, where people eat freshwater eel to keep their stamina in the summer.

This unique summer tradition began in the Edo period (1603-1868) and usually falls at the end of July. Eel is full of nutrients and rich in protein, calcium and vitamins, so it makes sense to enjoy now to stave off the seasonal heat.

Man Yu Wang (Unagi King) is a Japanese izakaya in Changning District, offering the ultimate eel-dining experience. I made a dinner reservation there on July 28 to celebrate Unagi Day.

The mere mention of grilled unagi is attractive enough, but Unagi King offers a much more complete experience to enjoy freshwater eel, from Unagi Don (grilled eel rice set) and fried unagi bones to unagi tempura and grilled unagi liver.

Striving to keep prices affordable and the food quality true to traditional Japanese unagi cuisine, all of the eels are meticulously selected from Shunde, Guangdong Province — where the eels are also exported to the Japanese market — to ensure the quality is in keeping with the restaurant’s homemade sauce and cooking prowess.

The house signature is definitely Unagi Don (grilled eel rice set). Unagi King uses special rice imported from Japan, Kanto-style sauce from a 100-year-old shop in Tokyo, and high-quality Japanese sansho pepper to ensure each element is perfect for this divine rice set.

The excellent quality of the unagi is evident from the creamy and delicate flesh, a dollop of sauce and masterful preparation over a charcoal grill. Yes, the grilled eel is definitely the standout, even without the rice.

This izakaya allows diners to enjoy eel in different ways, presenting a refreshing style of eating unagi as opposed to the regular eel-rice offering in most places. Other excellent dishes include deep-fried unagi bones and unagi tempura. The deep-fried bones taste the way you would imagine thin, delicate bones — crunchy in the thick parts and crispy in the thin areas. The unagi tempura is deep fried to crunchy perfection and exhibits a complex balance of flavor and texture.

Opening hours: 11:30am-2pm, 5:30pm-10pm

Tel: 166-0180-1085

Address: 2/F, 88 Zunyi Rd S.

Average price: 230 yuan


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