CHINATOWN - Move over poke bowls, OTT milkshakes and salted egg yolk burgers because there’s a new food trend in town that’s already gaining momentum, and that is unagi from Man Man Japanese Unagi Restaurant. Part of Chef Teppei Yamashita’s restaurant empire that includes Teppei at Orchid Hotel, Hanare Cafe, Teppei Daidokoro and Teppei Syokudo, Man Man specialises in Japanese-style barbecued eel, and the lineups have been out the door.
Why you should come here:
As soon as you walk in the door, you’re greeted by huge tanks teeming with freshwater eels from the Mikawa Isshiki region, which is known for having some of the tastiest eels in Japan. If you opt to sit at the counter in front of the glass enclosed kitchen, you can watch Chef Nakagawa draw on his 20 years of experience working with unagi to slaughter, slice and skewer the eels before grilling them over charcoal and smothering them in a sweet sauce to caramelize the skin. Not into watching the carnage before you eat? No worries—just grab a seat at one of the long communal tables in the dining room and dig in.
What we love:
You’re not going to find fresher eel anywhere in the city, as these little guys go straight from the tank to your plate with a short stopover on the grill. This means the meat is tender and fresh, and the flavours are absolutely amazing. They don’t skimp on the portions either, so you can expect to walk out feeling pretty filled.
For a full-on meal, go for one of the sets like the Unatama Don that comes with tender unagi, Japanese short-grain rice, tamagoyaki (a fluffy rolled omelet), soup and Japanese pickles. You can also order la carte to try various versions of eel on its own like the Unagi Kabayaki, grilled eel smothered in a sweet sauce to add richness to the crispy skin, or the Unagi Shirayaki, pure grilled unagi with just a sprinkling of salt.
We highly recommend the Hitsumabushi set, which has a whole process to it. Basically there are four steps to eat the unagi. First you eat the eel on its own over rice, then you try it garnished with wasabi, spring onions and nori over rice, and then you pour unagi bone dashi over the eel and rice to make a soup-like mix. Finally, you can choose your preferred method of chowing down.
We went for lunch around 1:30 pm on a weekday and by then there were no lines - so we say go for a later lunch if you are checking this out during your lunch break.
It was a tad pricey for lunch. Two of us both ordered the large set (which was $39++), plus two appetizers, so we ended up paying about $50 each.