Kabayaki (Japanese Grilled Eel) : ‘江もり -Emori- ‘ Hanyu City, Saitama Prefecture

River Cusine

Saitama Prefecture, not bordered by any sea, holds a unique place in Japan’s culinary landscape. Let’s delve into a slice of history that shaped its food culture. About 190 to 200 years ago, Japan had a system where regional lords would travel to Tokyo. Given the absence of modern transportation, these journeys were made on foot. Saitama, located on the path of these northern lords, became a vital stopover. This led to the development of a rich culture of inns and eateries catering to travelers. And it’s likely that eels, abundant in the rivers of Saitama, played a significant role in this culinary evolution. Even today, you’ll notice an unusually high number of eel restaurants here.

In Hanyu City, a small town belongs to Saitama pref., there are as many as five eel shops. Incidentally, there is only one bookstore. Among these, one particular eel restaurant stands out: Emori.

Emori’s uniqueness lies in its traditional cooking method. Here, eels are meticulously grilled over charcoal, not gas. At first glance, the slight char might seem overdone, but one bite reveals its fluffy texture and exceptional taste. The sauce, on the sweeter side, may not suit everyone’s palate, but I found it perfectly complements the smoky eel.

Interestingly, my recent visit to Emori was with my wife, who usually doesn’t accompany me on my river fish culinary adventures. River fish aren’t really her thing, but eel is a different story altogether. As we savored the delectable dishes at Emori, I was reminded once again of the incredible appeal of eel.

Unaju: 1836 yen
Jou Unaju: 2268 yen