Hitsumabushi – Barbecued Eel never tasted so good

I have babbled a lot about how Japan is crazy about food, and how pleasantly surprised I was when I arrived at the variety of gastronomical delights available that quickly vanquish the proverbial “picky eater” in me as I felt that I was missing out on an aspect of Japan that was worth exploring. So a couple days after arriving in Tokyo I made my way from Yokohama to Nagoya via bullet train to meet up a very good Japanese friend of mine. We were to spend the next few days exploring Kyoto and Nara but she wanted to celebrate my arrival in Japan and the realization of a dream she knew I had for many years. The celebratory dish of choice was Hitsumabushi a dish she explains that is quite popular and may have originated in her native Nagoya.

Arriving at the restaurant

While walking towards the restaurant I noticed a snake-like design on the glass at which point I realized that I was about to eat something I can only describe as um, interesting. First thing that struck me was the wonderful scent in the air, then I realized that the place was quite crowded as we joined a waiting list of persons waiting on a table. Our time soon came and as we were escorted to our table I couldn’t help but be visibly in awe at the design and layout of the restaurant which by the way is called Hitsumabushi at Shirakawa. A few minutes later our Hitsumabushi arrived and I nervously took a deep breath and looked to my Japanese friend for guidance and instruction.

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Eating Hitsumabushi is a three step process

I soon learned that eating Hitsumabushi is a three step process. First step involved eating some of the barbecued eel and rice alone. The second stage was eating some more of the the eel, rice combined with a a variety of seasonings (all of whose names I am forgetting) and a touch of wasabi. The third and possibly my favourite step is combining the eel, rice, seasonings, wasabi and hot soup into one.

Very delicious but nothing to compare the taste to

At the end of it all I was super happy and satisfied with the meal. I can’t find another kind of food to compare the taste of barbecued eel with, but I really enjoyed it and highly recommend Hitsumabushi if you ever find yourself in or around Nagoya. Have you even eaten Hitsumabushi? Want to eat Hitsumabushi? or you could never get over the thought of eating eel? Let me know your thoughts via a comment below.

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