Translated by Lester Somera
The Three Ways To Enjoy Nagoya's Famous Hitsumabushi
Nagoya's famous dish, hitsumabushi, is eaten very differently from unadon. Even some Japanese people don't know how to eat it. Find out how to eat it correctly.
Written by Hiromasa Uematsu
Unadon, or grilled eel on rice, occupies the same space in Japanese cuisine as dishes like sushi, ramen and tempura. If you like Japanese food, you have probably had it at least once.
Aichi Prefecture has a dish very similar to unadon called hitsumabushi.
It looks like unadon at first glance, but is eaten in a very different way, as you can tell from the title of this article. However, it may not make sense to you just yet.
Well, then, what exactly is hitsumabushi, and how are you supposed to eat it?
Eating Hitsumabushi in Five Steps
Most orders of hitsumabushi are served in four separate bowls, as seen in the photo above. The lower-right bowl contains the main dish, with eel and nori seaweed piled on top of rice. It differs from unadon in that the flesh of the eel is finely chopped, and it is accompanied by other toppings like nori.
We will now break down and explain the five stages of eating hitsumabushi.
Step 1. Divide the Bowl's Contents Into Four Servings
First, take your spoon or shamoji (a special scoop used to protect the rice) and divide the lower-right bowl's contents into four equal servings. Divide the other toppings as well, not just the rice.
Step 2. Place the Eel and Rice on the Little Bowl
Take one serving and place it on the small bowl you were given earlier. This bowl is the torizara (serving saucer).
After moving it to your bowl, the only thing left to do is eat it. You can enjoy the sweetness and depth of flavor that is just like normal unadon.
Step 3. Mix the Eel and Other Condiments with the Rice, Then Eat
Move another serving to the same bowl after eating the first serving. Unlike before, this time you should also move the yakumi (condiments such as wasabi and green onions) from the smallest plate to the torizara.
Depending on the restaurant, the kind of yakumi will vary, from wasabi to tsukemono (Japanese pickles). This restaurant uses wasabi. Give it a good stir so that the yakumi spreads throughout the whole dish. The flavor and sharp heat of the yakumi will add a refreshing element to the second serving.