Uoi has been serving Bincho charcoal grilled Unagi since it was founded in 1867, 3rd year of the Keio era. The fresh eels are split opened, skewered, and Bincho charcoal deeply grilled by our dedicated chefs, with golden brown crispy color and savory aroma features.
We hope you enjoy Uoi’s “crispy outside, juicy inside” original taste cooked by our dedicated chefs with inherited “traditional taste produced by excellent skills”.
Uoi has been choosing the finest eel throughout Japan since the beginning, not by the brand or origin but by the quality of the eel. The eels are selected by Mekiki (connoisseur) and only the eels that pass the quality tests are delivered to the kitchen. The condition of the eel differs from it’s origin and seasons, but Uoi always selects the best eel.
Lake Hamanako, Shizuoka
The history of producing eel in Lake Hamanako goes back for many years. Although the number of eel is decreasing, the “Tobi” which is the type of eel that eats whitebait very fast, is one of the superb Unagi which you can find in early autumn.
Yoshidacho has been well known as “the town of eel” where eels are farmed in a rather warm climate, which makes the eel flavorful.
Mikawa is the second largest eel producing area in Japan. Although the amount of water is less compared to other areas, the eel farms in Mikawa pulls the fresh water from the Yahagi river.
The quality of the eel produced by the rich water form the Naka river and farmers with inquiring minds suites the Kansai style grilling.
Kochi is the second oldest area for raising eel. The number of eel farms have decreased, but still produces great eel in the traditional way.
Miyazaki is the third largest eel producing area in Japan. The warm climate and fresh ground water of Miyazaki is suited for eel farming. The feature of Miyazaki eel is soft and less muddy.
Sohgun Osakicho, Kagoshima
There are many large sized eel farms in this area which uses the rich water of Kirishima and controlled by modernized facilities.
Uoi has a “Tateba” (fish tank) with a capacity that can keep 30 tons of water. When eels are carried by trucks, the skin of the eel becomes very oily from the stress of transporting. Letting the eels rest inside the fish tanks help them to rest and recover, bringing them back to their best condition. The daily amount of eels that arrive to Uoi is between 1 to 2 tons. Uki is able to select the finest eels throughout Japan.
Underground Pump (Water Quality Control)
The eels are placed in a fish tank for a day filled with fresh water pumped up from 120 meters below underground. The pH value of the water is controlled by letting the water pass through a filter to get rid of iron and other substances. The water temperature is also controlled to let the eels relax which help them be in their best condition before they are sent out.
Every eel passes through a quarantine check (Bacillus subtitles ATCC6633) before they are released. After they pass, the eel from each lot goes through the tasting check. The selected eel gets grilled (without the sauce) and being tasted by 5 professionals and examines the taste, smell, and quality. The eel will not be released unless it is approved by all 5 examiners.
The eels are divided into certain categories. The eels need to be sorted depending on their size and taste in order to meet the clients’ demands. It is also important to sort the eels into certain categories so that the restaurants can maintain there quality and taste without having trouble. The quality or taste differs during the season, so we put effort in sorting the eels to maintain the quality.
Selecting by Machine
The eels are sorted by size with a machine after they have been gathered from each area of Japan. The eels are divided into several groups between 20g and 30g to match the clients’ needs which helps them having less trouble when cooking.
Selecting by Hand
The characteristics of each eel differs even if they come from the same area or same lot. The cooking method of the eel also differs in each area of Japan. At Uoi, the eels are carefully sorted by the hands of the professionals in order to meet the clients’ specific needs.
At Uoi, the eels are cooked in the traditional Kansai style by grilling the flap-opened eel without steaming. The chef places a v-shaped “second cut” in the belly which makes it unique. By making the second cut, the meat of the eel becomes fluffy and also helps the skewers to be placed easily.
Uoi Style Open Cutting
Placing the “second cut” into the eel is Uoi’s unique style. The first cut is made in the belly from the head to the tip of the eel. The first cut is done carefully by not letting the meat of the eel get peeled of from the bone. Then the chef places the second cut parallel to the cutting board in order to to remove the bone.
What is the "Second Cut" ?
When preparing the eel, many restaurants usually remove the bone with a single cut, which causes some of the meat to be dragged away with the bone, ending up with a flat eel. On the other hand, Uoi’s v-shaped “second cut” technique helps the bone to be removed without having the meat to be dragged off. This helps not only to make the skewering process easy, but also makes the grilled eel fluffy.
Uoi Style Skewering
In order to grill the Unagi equally, the Unagi must be sorted by the SUJI.
The length of the eel varies even though they may weigh the same, so they must be sorted from long to short eels. When skewering the eel, the cook carefully skewer into the hardest part of the bone, which helps the eel from getting torn up. Then the second and third skewers are placed to form an arch which enables the chef the lift the whole eel without using both hands.
The meat of the eel turns soft as it gets grilled, so the first three skewers are placed to make the flipping process easier.
After the skewers are placed , the eels are placed inside the refrigerator for 4 to 5 hours so that the eels will be in the best condition for grilling.
Uoi's grilled eels are crispy on the outside, juicy fluffy on the inside. From preparing the fire bed to skewering and final coating of the eel, grilling the eel is a series of operations and it takes a “life-time career experience” to become a dedicated chef. The condition of the eel varies daily because of the temperature and seasons, even a well experienced chef requires high skills to grill.
Preparing the “fire bed”
Before the eels get grilled, the chef must check the condition of the eel. The chef adjusts the fire by setting the charcoal depending on the type of eel that is about to be grilled,
Grilled from the belly
The eel is first grilled by a rather strong fire, preventing from the meat to get loose and the skin to curl up.
Skewering the "Nui-gushi"
While grilling , the meat becomes soft and the skin tries to curl up. In order to prevent from the meat getting separated from the skin, the chef carefully places a skewer in a sewing manner, which is called the “Nui-gushi.” Gold skewers are often used to help the heat conduct into the meat, also helping the oil between the meat and skin to boil which brings out the flavor.
There is an expression in Japanese that says “Let the Daimyo cook the fish” which means “The fish should stay put and not to be moved” (The Daimyo - or warlord often doesn’t move much)
But when it comes to eel, it becomes a different story. The eel must be flipped constantly in order to to be heated equally. This also helps the meat to become soft and juicy and getting rid of the small bones by burning them. Before the eel is covered by sauce, the eel is sprayed with a little amount of sake until the eel is grilled into a golden brown crispy color.
While the Unagi is getting grilled, the cook pours the sauce on the Unagi using a ladle. However, the cook carefully pours the sauce equally on the surface which takes a lot of experience to do so.
The Unagi is flipped over several times until the outside gets crispy, followed by the final coating of the sauce. This makes the Unagi a glossy look waiting to be served.