Hitsumabushi Bincho, Grand Front Osaka
I didn't know that different regions in Japan actually make different styles of unagi dishes. It wasn't until Pixie commented on my instagram photo taken at Tomoei that I learnt about Hitsumabushi. She also explained that the eel was prepared differently depending on the location of the region (Western or Eastern).
Hitsumabushi originated from Nagoya where cut up grilled eel was serve on a bed of rice in a wooden tub. I was in Tokyo and was about to move to Kyoto when I learnt about it so I googled some for some Hitsumabushi restaurants and found one at Grand Front Osaka. In fact, the restaurant was the first place that we visited when we were in Osaka. Grand Front Osaka is a very large shopping centre and residential condominium that can be easily reached from JR Osaka Train Station.
I ordered one Hitsumabushi set for myself and Hubby ordered a simple grilled eel set meal. After I put my order through, I was given an instruction card on how to eat the Hitsumabushi.
- Enjoy the flavour without adding any seasoning
- Add wasabi and green onions and enjoy different flavour
- Top your bowl with eel and condiments (wasabi, green onions, nori) then pour the dashi (soup) over it to create Ochazuke.
My Hitsumabushi set came with a small bowl so I didn't have to worry about pouring the soup into the big wooden rice tub. Due to the portion, I think it's a dish that can be shared between two people if you want to try this dish in between other meals. The wooden shamoji (rice paddle) can be used to scoop as many or as much eel and rice into your small bowl. The eel was a bit smoky because it was prepared over high quality charcoal created from Oak Wood (bincho).
Hubby's unagi was really delicious as well and had the same cut as my Hitsumabushi set. It was grilled properly and we could see that both meals had crispy exterior, enough glaze and really buttery tender meat.
If you're an unagi lover, this place is a must visit when you're in Osaka. I didn't realise it before but after Japan we felt that it was quite hard to find a good place that serve great eel in Perth. So you better eat all the eel you can get while you're in Japan!