Unagi Cuisine in Narita City
Entering Kikuya, visitors are welcomed to an old-fashioned world of antique furniture and delicate unagi (eel) dishes. Traditional preparation passed on from generation to generation – for 270 years – is quite noticeable in the beautifully mastered meals served in the 300-year-old house.
Tucked into a private room upstairs or seated alongside others on the lower floor, customers can enjoy the highest quality and freshness of Kikuya’s unagi don (eel on rice in a bowl). The course meal, though pricey, is well worth every yen. First comes the eel liver (like fois gras), tenderly prepared in a tangy sauce. Then a simmered daikon (Japanese radish) piece arrives with a miso glaze. Fresh sashimi (raw fish) follows, carefully placed on a bed of grated daikon on a decorative plate. Then the salad arrives, held above two perfectly coated and fried oysters, suspended in a birdcage-like tower. Finally, the main dish arrives – a perfectly seasoned fillet of eel on a bed of fluffy, sticky white rice. Each bite slowly melts on the tongue. Spices – a blend of Japanese peppercorn – can be added to bring out the flavor, but, along with extra sauce, is not at all necessary. Accompanying the eel rice bowl is a small plate of pickled vegetables and rich miso soup. It all goes down quickly, smoothly, and savored as much as possible. As if any stomach space remained, along comes the finale, a small cup of café au lait pudding with a dollop of fresh cream. The entire feast is filling yet light.
As they enter and leave, visitors are thanked by the master of the house, wife of the son of the multi-generation restaurant-owning family. She explains the meaning behind the name – Chrysanthemum – and how it came to take the place of the family name as the restaurant’s namesake. It appears that this flower is a symbol of prestige, royalty, and was once bestowed upon an ancestor, giving much pride to the family. The restaurant was thus renamed in appreciation of such an honor. A well-deserved one at that.
[posted by Nadia]