On 12th October, a little restaurant in Keong Saik Road gently opened its doors to the public. Not just any restaurant, but an unagi speciality restaurant and the tenth addition to Chef Teppei Yamashita’s crown of culinary cornucopia. (Yes, we counted them all And made a nice little Google Maps for your viewing pleasure 😉 ) So rejoice, my fellow Japanese eel lovers!
Make no bones about it, Man Man’s menu is all about unagi. You get to have a choice of unagi, more unagi, and even more unagi 😛 For our first meal here, we decided on the store speciality – hitsumabushi ($26.80) which is unagi served Nagayo-style to be enjoyed in 3 different ways (more on that later), and a medium portion of una-don ($25.80) which is your standard unagi with rice but also with tamagoyaki.
Most of Man Man’s unagi is served kabayaki-style – where the eel is filleted, deboned, dipped into sweet tare sauce, and then broiled on the grill with skewers. There’s also the option of having it as shirayaki ($27.80) – which skips the tare sauce basting, to enjoy the eel in its more original form. Having eaten only unagi kayabaki all this while, it’s a wee bit daunting to try the eel in its salt-grilled naked glory (￣ε￣＠), so I’ll save this house special for the next visit. I might even give kimoyaki (eel liver!) a try, probably after a bit of liquid courage 😉
Man Man also serves 4 kinds of cocktails ($12.80) – Say Yes! and Shiso Lovely inspired by Teppei’s wife (aaaaaw!), Bubbles-Bubbles by their children (aaaaaaw again!), and Home Run by softball (ok, didn’t see that one coming). Teppei-san, you’re setting the bar pretty high for most guys!
You want fresh unagi? Well, it doesn’t get any more fresher than this as the eels are nice and lively in Man Man’s water tanks (see this shot? This is at the restaurant entrance – not Tsukiji!), where they are only fished out once the diners’ orders are placed. These fat lovely Japanese eels are sourced from the Isshiki town of Mikawa Bay, in Aichi Prefecture – where the folks of Isshiki have been specialising in freshwater eel farming since year 1904 (!)
We didn’t managed to get a seat next to the live prep and grilling space. Only 8 counter seats for this windowed area – so highly recommended to reserve a seat here in advance (if someone else hasn’t choped it first). This is where all the eel-lectrifying action is, led by Chef Nakagawa with 20 years of unagi experience under his belt (definitely must be black). After some gawking (at the ‘fishing’, slicing, grilling) and girl talk (about guys, d’oh), our unagi arrives – itadakimasu! 🙏
The unagi was absolutely gorgeous – piping hot and well seared, it was heaven to bite first into the beautifully charred sweet skin and then the tender plumpness within. The meat of my dining partner’s hitsumabushi was more well done than my una-don. But that doesn’t mean one is better than the other, because both are equally oishii!
For the hitsumabushi set, you eat it in 3 steps – (1) unagi with rice, (2) then unagi with seasonings of wasabi, nori seaweed, spring onions, and (3) finally pouring dashi (soup stock) from your little jug into your bowl of remaining unagi, rice, and seasonings to make a savoury ochazuke (tea rice). Too complicated? Check out the mini manga on how to eat hitsumabushi by Aichi Tourism in the Bonus Round section below 🙂
The tamagoyaki that came with my una-don was softer and less yellow than most tamagoyaki that I’ve usually eaten. Its clean mellow taste makes a nice accompaniment to the sweet-savoury richness of the unagi.
Two thumbs up for a very satisfying and price-friendly unagi meal, and definitely worth a repeat visit! 👍👍 💕 The restaurant size is more cosy than cavernous, so remember to make your reservations early. And if The Seven Lucky Gods are smiling, you’ll score the eel-lusive counter seats to watch a culinary show worthy of any Iron Chef episode!
1 Keong Siak Road #01-01 Singapore 089109 (behind the Working Capitol)
Tel: +65 6222 0678
Operating Hours: Mondays – Saturdays (Closed on Sundays and Public Holidays)
Lunch 11:30am – 3:00pm (Last orders 2:30pm) / Dinner 6:00pm – 10:30pm (Last orders 10:00pm)
Facebook: Man Man Japanese Unagi Restaurant
1) For the easily confused (like me) who can’t remember to put rice or wasabi first – handy hitsumabushi eating guide by Aichi Tourism!
2) For us sad souls who couldn’t get counter seats – close-up video of the sizzling show by sifu DanielFoodDiary –
3) For folks wondering what’s the big deal about unagi – full details by fellow unagiya Sumiyaki about these delicious wrigglers and the exacting Japanese standards to ensure the best for our stomachs. Hey, knowledge flavours food!
4) For folks wondering how many times unagi was mentioned in this post – chug back a drink every time you see one, and have someone guide you home safely tonight 😛
Arigato gozaimasu to Man Man’s management for inviting us to their pre-opening night!
Note: This was an invited food tasting but all opinions are of my own 🙂
♥ Angela (@EtuiTrove)
Mitsueki’s Blog Writer