After reading the review by Jaime Ee in the Business Times : A quick-service approach to Unagi, I made a quick reservation to lunch at the new Uya Unagi Singapore restaurant at Wheelock Place. Like Ms Ee, I have never visited the unagi place that many talk about, Man Man, even though the thought of it had lingered at the back of my mind. The thought of a long queue was usually enough to snuff out any thought of actually making a trip there. And no, I do not have to witness the eels “being slit alive as the ultimate proof of freshness”. Which was why Uya Unagi Singapore sounded like a dream come true – unagi with the hype of Man Man but without the bother. In order to make a comparison, I had a companion who had been to Man Man a couple of times.
There has been some changes to the restaurants at Wheelock Place. Several new ones have opened. Uya Unagi Singapore is one them. According to their website, “Uya 四代目菊川 aims to offer affordable and authentic Japanese traditional unagi cuisine to the masses in Singapore. … The tare used in Uya 四代目菊川 is made using a sauce base that has been a family secret for over 4 generations and was specially brought over from Japan to Singapore.” The restaurant incorporates traditional Japanese restaurant design with a contemporary touch.
No display of eels being slaughtered was available, but the grilling of the eels over a charcoal grill can be seen through a glass panel.
Uya Unagi Singapore Menu
Apart from unagi which is the main event on the menu, there are other types of Japanese food available, such as sashimi and tempura. The range of dishes is sensibly kept narrow as it is clear that diners have mainly unagi on their minds when they visit Uya. Here are pictures of some portions from the Uya Unagi Singapore Menu
The Uya unagi is basically prepared in two forms – grilled with sauce or salt. The menu provides three options of ordering it. Eel a la carte is the most basic way – just select L/M/S portions and whether the eel is grilled with salt or sauce. The eel set menu options serve the eel with rice, salad soup and pickles. The Hitsumabushi style of serving eel is their signature way of serving eel and provides three or more ways to consume the unagi. We decided on a small unagi set ($25) and a large Hitsumabushi ($48). Tea costs $2 per person.
This is the small unadon that we ordered. It is small but adequate for a lunch. I think this is a good choice for anyone just wanting to try out what Uya has to offer. The first question is – how is the “designer” eel different from the unagi in the average Japanese restaurant? The difference is noticeable but I would not say that there is a difference between night and day. The taste of the Uya eel is cleaner than average with no muddy aftertaste. The use of the sweet tare sauce is more restrained to avoid the drowning-in-sauce effect seen in some places. Finally, I think the expert grilling makes a difference. The freshly grilled eel is dry and firm in texture (as compared to mushy and crumbly).
This is the Hitsumabushi (large). It looks like a whole eel had been used to make this. In terms of presentation it is impressive. The eel has been chopped into thinner slices. We thought that the eel tasted better when served in this way. The second question is how does this compare with Man Man. According to my companion, the eels taste roughly the same. The main difference is that Man Man’s eels are grilled to a crisp finish. The Uya ones are still soft and only the charred edges have that crisp surface. Whether one likes it crisp or not is a subjective preference. He prefers the Uya style.
The three ways of eating Hitsumabushi is described in the menu. Eat it plain, add the condiments provided or make ochazuke with the dash broth provided. We liked the first and third ways.
Overall, I am glad to finally try the premium unagi that Man Man has been noted for in recent years. Uya Unagi provides a more accessible and convenient alternative. But the enjoyment of premium unagi comes at a price. Our total cost of our unagi lunch for two was $90.63 after adding in service charge and taxes.
Overall Rating: 3 TOPs
Uya Unagi Singapore
501 Orchard Road, Wheelock Place
#02-15/16, Singapore 238880
Tel: +65 6732 1096
Lunch : 11:30 – 15:00 (Last Order 14:30)
Dinner : 18:00 – 22:00 (Last Order 21:30)
Nearby MRT Station: Orchard
The Ordinary Patrons | Real Dining Experience of Ordinary People
an independent Singapore food blog