I had the pleasure of joining my friend and my husband’s former co-worker Morihiko Kubota for dinner in Tokyo a few nights ago. Kubota-san took me to Nobori-Tei, a restaurant that specializes in unagi (eel) dishes. I’ve enjoyed unagi sushi and unagi don (grilled eel over rice) numerous times, but this meal was sublime.
Nobori-Tei serves every part of unagi prepared in every style. I was introduced to the crunchiness of bones and the thickness of liver. I savored the melt-in-your-mouth tenderness of shiroyaki unagi (grilled eels that looks white), picked unagi with wakame (seaweed) and Japanese cucumbers, and possibly the best unagi don I’ve ever had.
Not every dish was available, however. Signs posted around the restaurant apologized for the lack of some meals due to a shortage of eels. Kubota-san explained that many eels have moved away from the area, decreasing the available supply. It’s another reminder of the consequences of enjoying too much seafood.
At one point during the meal, Kubota-san asked if we had an equivalent restaurant in New York. My initial reaction was to say “no” because I honestly don’t know if there is a restaurant in NYC whose focus is primarily on serving eel. If one does exist, please enlighten me. If there isn’t one, there needs to be! While supplies last, of course.