Hitsumabushi, is one of Nagoya City's food specialties. It is a rice topping meal of slow grilled fresh water eel or unagi. This restaurant is the one it is famous for. They have several branches throughout the city, the main one is near the Atsuta Shrine, an institution recognized as of national historical importance.
Ordering Hitsumabusi is a course meal composed of clear soup with eel heart, a box of condiments, particular some curry like spice, nori seaweed slivers, and soup stock. There is a systematic way to eat hitsumabushi. One should start by consuming the soup, followed by the rice topping. To start of the rice topping, you must divide the content into four portions of which. one must eat sequentially in the provided extra rice bowl each of the quarter portions of:
rice and unagi only
rice, unagi and nori seaweed condiments
rice, unagi, nori and the clear soup stock...
the last portion is your best, among the three styles. My oersonal choice would always be the first one because it highlights the tenderness and delicate flavors of the unagi.
As a summer food, unagi is believed to have a cooling effect for the body. Thus expect that during the summer months of june to august, peaking at july this restaurant has a long line. Unagi day falls on the mid summer (third week of July) which according to Japanese meteorology, is the day of the last rains and warm humid days are to start.
The way of cutting the unagi in Nagoya is always from the back as a respect for the Seppuku rites of the Samurai (also in Tokyo) and the slow broiling technique of Kansai. It is said thatnthe Nagoya style of preparing unagi is a hybrid of these two distinct schools of cooking influences.
I forgot to mention earlier that one of the condiments is the green onion slices. The set also comes with sweetish pickled vegetables.
All in all the Houraiken experience is a must, and with this anyone would never eat unagi the same way again.
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