A short walk east of Osaka Castle Park, Nishihara is an unagi (eel) specialist serving a mouthwatering version of this classic Japanese dish. Unadon (unagi over rice) costs around Y2,000 at lunch.
Nishihara - image © Florentyna Leow
Dig even just a little into unagi in Japan and you’ll find two culinary camps: Kanto-style and Kansai-style. What’s the difference between these two? Kanto-style (East Japan) sees the eel being sliced open along the back and steamed prior to grilling, giving it a more tender texture. In West Japan or Kansai, they dispense with the steaming altogether. The eel is sliced along the belly and grilled immediately, rendering it beautifully crispy on the outside.
This being Osaka, you’d imagine that restaurants here serve exclusively Kansai-style grilled eel. You’d be wrong. Nishihara, located near Osaka Castle Park, specialises in Kanto-style unagi, and it’s popular with local Osakans. It’s a more time-consuming, finicky way of preparing eel. Eel isn’t cheap either - we recommend at least a medium or large, clocking in at around JPY3,300 or JPY4,700 respectively. It’s worth the higher price tag. Each fillet is grilled to order, so this isn’t the place to visit if you want a fast meal - expect to wait a little. But the restaurant is worth the wait.
The restaurant is located around 5 minutes from Tanimachi-Yonchome Station, and just a little east of Osaka Castle Park. It’s on a block bordering a small park. Look for the dark brown noren curtains in front of the door with the kanji for eel on the sign: 鰻.
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4-12 Kitashin-machi, Chuo-ku, Osaka-shi, 540-0023
Closed Monday and 2nd Tuesday
Subway: 6-minute walk from exit 4 of Tanimachi 4-chome Station on the Osaka Metro Tanimachi and Chuo Lines.
:: Read customer reviews of Unagi Nishihara on TripAdvisor.
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