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The Three Ways To Enjoy Nagoya's Famous Hitsumabushi

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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.

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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

The Three Ways To Enjoy Nagoya's Famous Hitsumabushi

Photo by Pixta

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

The Three Ways To Enjoy Nagoya's Famous Hitsumabushi

Photo by Pixta
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.

Step 4. Eat It with Tea and Dashi Broth

The Three Ways To Enjoy Nagoya's Famous Hitsumabushi

Photo by Pixta
Now that you have finished off half of the hitsumabushi, your stomach must have filled up quite a bit. How do you take in the third serving then?

After shaping the rice and eel into a pile, pour in the soup from the black bowl. This is a lightly-flavored dashi (*1) broth. Some restaurants provide tea in place of dashi.

(*1) Dashi liquid is made from simmering fish or meat.

The Three Ways To Enjoy Nagoya's Famous Hitsumabushi

Photo by Pixta
Added to the dense and rich taste of the eel, the dashi stock imparts a noticeably more refined flavor. Even with a full stomach, you can drink this down smoothly, without breaking a sweat.

Step 5. Eat the Last Serving However You Like

You have learned the three ways to enjoy hitsumabushi. Which one piqued your interest? You can eat the remaining serving whichever way you like.

Hitsumabushi Without Having to Go to Nagoya!

The Three Ways To Enjoy Nagoya's Famous Hitsumabushi

Hitsumabushi is famous in Nagoya cuisine, but now you can give it a try in Tokyo and Osaka, among other places. One of those places is Nadai Unatoto Asakusa.

Nadai Unatoto Asakusa is a chain of restaurants where you can eat various eel dishes, like hitsumabushi and unadon at a reasonable price. There are also branches in Shinjuku and Osaka Umeda, among other sightseeing areas.

The Three Ways To Enjoy Nagoya's Famous Hitsumabushi

Photo by Pixta
Other restaurants where you can eat hitsumabushi are popping up in cities outside of Nagoya. After you get a taste of delicious hitsumabushi, by all means, venture out to Nagoya to try the original!


Nadai Unatoto Asakusa
Address: Tokyo, Taito Hanakawado 1-5-2 Hanakawado
Hours: 11:00-22:00
Closed: None
Wi-Fi: None
Credit Cards: No
Foreign languages spoken: None
Foreign language menus: None
Nearest Station: Asakusa Station, Tokyo Metro Ginza Line, Toei Asakusa Line.
Access: 1 minute walk from Tokyo Metro Ginza Line, Asakusa Station, 3 minute walk from Toei Asakusa Line, Asakusa Station.
Price Range: 100 yen to 2000 yen
Phone: +81-3-3842-6969
Website: Nadai Unatoto

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