Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Obana, Minami Senju (尾花)

Tokyo is on the march. Walking through this old, beat little part of Minami Senju on dead hot, overcast August days.

Riding bikes, converging from all directions.

To wait in line.

In the rain. In a LOT of rain.

Actually, my fault entirely, we arrived only 25 minutes before opening time. That meant we were #30 and #31 in line...and were thus the very first people to be turned away to the waiting area. "It'll take about an hour," the waitress said, briskly and unsympathetically, before pushing a menu in our faces to get our pre-order for the happy time when such an eventuality as our entrance might eventuate.

Once we were seated, more waiting ensued. That's how these shops are, these shinisei, old-fashioned places. Notwithstanding the 10-years-ago renovation that's left the room very clean and...hmmm, I was going to say 'modern', but there's nothing modern about the big shrine, or the tatami-only seating. Just clean wood, lots of it.

Ooh! Ooh! Food!

No, just a small dish of pickles. I mean, the kitchen is theoretically killing, fileting, steaming, and grilling your food only after you order it. None of those things are fast.

Even the boxes were made slowly. This is probably the nicest box I've ever gotten one of these in.

'One of these' is an una-ju, an eel-box. This is the luxury Y4k size, and I can say that because I wasn't paying, woo hoo!

I wonder what this looks like if you've never seen grilled eel before. I shan't describe it as 'burnished' or 'delicately grilled'. I will say that it's the best una-ju I've ever had. Not the best eel; the one a few weeks ago at Sasahana was certainly better-quality fish. But the amount and depth of flavor here were beyond any other eel.

I mean, it is ranked #2 for eel on Tabelog. It oughta be good. I'll tell you this though, it's not worth the trip and the wait. Stay around town, spare yourself the trouble, and you'll get eel that will satisfy anyone. I'd go here if I were you. Only someone who's eaten a fair amount of good eel could reasonably say this was great. You're checking the tags, aren't you? I've got 11 unagi listings (in the last 3 years). See, that doesn't even qualify.

But someone certainly liked it!
[There used to be a funny picture of Someone at left, but she asked me to take it down, and now that we're married I kinda think I should oblige.]


  1. Having been to Obana, I am big fan of this place:

    Just as good but they accept reservations and the eel is served in small tatami rooms with only 2 tables per room all looking out to a garden. Price is the same.

  2. Returning the ring in 5..4..3..