Thursday, November 03, 2016

Man Man Unagi

Not a fan of Teppei in its original restaurant or whichever else outlet serving whatever-don or bara-chirashi-whatever. I found them all to be quite untasty. Some are downright awful, especially the outlets at Republic Plaza and Millenia Walk. When Teppei's newest venture Man Man Unagi opened, I was curious enough to at least eat there once. It brands itself as an unagi specialty restaurant. The man was more enthusiastic because he really likes unagi.

I rarely eat unagi or anago. One, eels. Eioowwww. Two, I'm violently resistant to putting anything with soft bones in my mouth. Eels, sardines, Bombay duck, the sorts. Three, Japanese freshwater eels are on ICUN's endangered list since 2014 and it's unclear if farming eels and limiting catches have helpedMan Man Unagi's supplies apparently come from Isshiki on Mikawa Bay in Aichi-ken. A good two-hour drive west from the famed eel region of Hamana-ko (or Lake Hamana) in Hamamatsu in Enshū, Shizuoka-ken.

I oddly had higher hopes for Man Man Unagi because I heard that the Head Chef Nakagawa has been grilling eels for two decades. I wasn't disappointed. The menu holds nothing else but eels. It serves up great quality food at reasonable prices. Say between S$25 to S$28 for a set. Be prepared for tiny tables placed so close to one another that you can't actually talk about anything meaningful without being overheard, and long queues under no shelter out the front door. We simply strolled in because it was a party of two and we were there at 6pm.

Once you get those freshwater eels right, the grilling is brainless. Get the timing right. There're only two styles- Kansai and Kanto (where eels are sliced open along the back, and steamed first before grilling). Man Man's kitchen uses my preferred Kansai style. There're many unadon sets on the menu. Take your pick. I'm not fond of tare sauce, so no kabayaki-anything. If I eat unagi, it's always done shirayaki, seasoned only with salt then charcoal-grilled. This one was done beautifully. Even I am impressed. I rarely get decent shirayaki unagi Kansai style in Singapore. The man wanted the liver (うなぎの肝焼き) and declared it delicious. He totally loved the unadon.

Depending on how much you can uhh stomach watching your still-alive food being sliced open with dripping blood and all, skewered and grilled, you might not want to sit at the counter. Eight seats right upfront. Kitchen prep and dining spaces are separated by a glass panel. It's a small restaurant that seats about 50 maybe, packing in diners like erm eels in containers. The containers that hold the eels are placed right by the entrance. We were right there when the staff came to scoop up a batch of eels into the tub and to the kitchen to be slaughtered belly-up. I literally saw my dinner alive, writhing. Oh man, that instant pang of guilt. 😞

Well, for many personal reasons that have nothing to do with the great food, this would be my first and last visit to the restaurant.

Man Man Unagi
1 Keong Saik Road #01-01 Singapore 089109
T: +65 6222 0678
(Its entrance is off the main Keong Saik Road and onto the small alley towards Duxton Plain Park.)
Hours: Mon to Sat- 11.30am - 3pm ; 6pm - 10.30pm ; closed on Sundays and public holidays.

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