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The UTW (“Under Ten Words”): Man Man Unagi without the sweetness, wasabi and queue.

The must-orders (if any): Hitsumabushi.

Summary:  The sole reason why most people would visit Uya Singapore in its initial month would likely be to compare its offerings to that of the colossally popular Man Man Unagi Japanese Restaurant, and the similarities are there, from the windows which allow visual access to the smoky grill action in the kitchen to the headlining dish being Hitsumabushi (essentially an unagi rice bowl meant to be consumed in different ways, such as with dashi broth, or mixed with condiments).

Whilst non-eel offerings such as their Sashimi Rice Bowl ($23), Rare Wagyu Rice Bowl ($27) and the ubiquitous Tempura Rice Bowl ($23) are available, the main and obvious draw would be their unagi dishes. The Hitsumabushi ($48 for large, $35 for medium) is served with condiments such as spring onion, wasabi and nori, as well as dashi broth, and the menu guides you on how to portion your unagi rice and consume them in different ways using the various elements on the tray. Elsewhere, you can get your eel fix by way of an Unagi Rice Box or Unagi Rice Bowl ($46 for large, $33 for medium and $25 for small), Nagayaki which means the whole eel is grilled and served like a steak with rice ($46), or as a Healthy Unagi Rice Bowl with vegetables and sous vide egg ($29).

Whilst I had found that Man Man’s unagi was stickily sweet, Uya Singapore’s take is significantly restrained in its saucy sweetness, instead being memorably charred and smoky in character, with notable charred skin-crunchy moments. Whilst Man Man’s unagi was baby buttock soft to the bite, Uya Singapore’s unagi was more NSF-recruit buttock firm to the crunch (okay, so you’ve tasted both baby and NSF buttocks? – Editor). Essentially, Uya Singapore’s unagi is what you get if Man Man’s feminine unagi had a baby with a nicely charred and manly mackerel.

The regular table size at Uya Singapore is as frustratingly tiny as Man Man’s, but what is really good about Uya Singapore is that it is built like an actual restaurant – you have big tables for families and large groups, private tables and areas separated from the main dining room by pillars and partitions, and generally none of that packed-like-sardines, queue under the sun nonsense of Man Man’s. Uya Singapore plays the Man Man Unagi rival card very well – much better than the last notable grilled eel concept – and it would be interesting to see if business ever becomes quite as busy.

Unagi Rice Box - Uya SingaporeUnagi Rice Box, medium-sized, served with salad, soup and pickles ($33).

Unagi Rice Box - Uya SingaporeUnagi Rice Box, medium-sized, served with salad, soup and pickles ($33).

Eel Liver - Uya SingaporeEel liver ($9).

Hitsumabushi - Uya SingaporeHitsumabushi – chopped up eel served with condiments, broth, soup and pickles ($35).


Grade: A2

Uya Singapore
501 Orchard Road
#02-15/16 Wheelock Place
Singapore 238880

Author

Shawn began documenting his food experiences since he started reading Law at the National University of Singapore. Initially he turned to food for solace from the rigours of university life, and food eventually became his safe haven away from the horrors of legal practice. However, it dawned on him one day that he has become sufficiently enlightened about the magic of discovering new and good food, and that it was time to share his findings with others. Instead of aligning himself with the vast sea of vanilla foodie influencer-style of writing, which would admittedly open more doors in terms of free meals and public relations love, Shawn decided to approach food writing by way of satirical humour, turning the don't-ya-wanna-eat-what-I'm-eating-cuz-I'm-a-public-figure self-importance/self-indulgent gravitas of Instagram foodie-ism in Singapore on its head and conveying his thoughts about food in a manner which is decidedly obscure at times and on others, frankly nonsensical. The rigours of legal practice and desire for a form of indulgent escape led to Shawn's second passion - experiencing and writing about new and luxury hotel properties. Secret Life of Fatbacks is an extension of Shawn's Instagram account (@Larvitar). For intellectual property reasons, he is unable to name the website anything related to the titular Pokémon character. Feel free to ask him in person what "Fatbacks" refers to. Shawn is not a professional critic, blogger or photographer. He is simply a guy who loves food and luxury hotels very much and (likes to think that he has) a quirky sense of humor. Shawn is presently a full-time lawyer, and when he is not premature ageing due to stress and vicious deadlines, he is somewhere spending an exorbitant amount of money trying out new dining places and hotels.

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