The UTW (“Under Ten Words”): Korean (and not Japanese) grilled eel concept.
The must-orders (if any): Grilled Eel Set with….well, any sauce really.
Summary: From the people behind Kko Kko Nara (and launching right next door) comes Unagi Nara, a Korean grilled eel concept which would inevitably invite comparisons with the wildly popular Man Man Japanese Unagi Restaurant. For those expecting the interactive elements of Man Man – pour the dashi stock! grate your own wasabi! watch the graphic, torture porn-esque murder of the eels! – you may be disappointed to hear that Unagi Nara has none of those elements, instead being more in the vein of your very standard Tanjong Pagar Korean restaurant. (I did feel a bit nervous watching the eels get scooped from the tank and dumped into a pail – the thrashing tangle of serpentine folks were not of the pretty Taylor Swift or cute Ekans/Arbok variety.)
Whilst Man Man’s eel plays it stickily sweet and invitingly soft, Unagi Nara’s eel involves more teethly engagement, possessing chewy gelatinous bits and being more resiliently firm, with even its skin having a fair element of crunch in the mix. Softness of torso-wise, Man Man’s eel is more Danang beach resort while Unagi Nara is more SISPEC training phase.
(Considering one is a Japanese concept and one is Korean, perhaps a direct comparison may be as fair as comparing eggs Benedict and soft boiled eggs on the basis that they are both unborn chicken material.)
Whilst the affluent can indulge in gratuitous amounts of grilled eel with a choice of either salt, soy sauce or chilli sauce (with prices from $42 for a smaller portion to $160 for 1kg) or large portions of monkfish ($75) or octopus ($50), the set menus would likely appeal more to the masses. If you go for the Grilled Eel sets (i.e. it’s a larger eel and the rice is separate) you have a choice of sauce for your eel, but for the Rice with Grilled Eel sets (chopped eel atop rice) the soy sauce option is fixed.
Grilled Eel Set with choice of Chilli Sauce ($45). There was no noticeable difference whatsoever between the Chilli Sauce and Soy Sauce. Can somebody try the salt option and share how it tastes?
Rice with Grilled Eel and Eel Soup ($35). The rice was a distraction in the proceedings, whilst elsewhere the Eel Soup played it like a copiously eggy spicy mackerel soup.
Unagi Nara is definitely no Man Man Japanese Unagi Restaurant, and does require a fairly steep capital inlay like most Korean restaurants in Singapore, but we left fairly and surprisingly satisfied after all the thick eel action. Worth a try, especially if you can rally enough troops or atas foodie friends to indulge in the large and pricier portions.
70 Tanjong Pagar Road