With the opening of Gochi Church Street Japan Kitchen at Capital Square, the office folks of the Central Business District would have a myriad of options to choose from when it comes to dining options in the area.
Being one of the various concepts being housed in Gochi Church Street Japan Kitchen, Unaemon hails from Yokohama, Japan; the brand itself being co-founded by another brand that carries a heritage of nearly 150 years. Operating as a mini restaurant within the grounds of Gochi Church Street Japan Kitchen, it also shares its space with other brands such as Morozoff, Paletas, Pronto Cafe & Bar, Suage Express and Chojiro; some of which being more of a takeaway kiosk whilst others being a mini restaurant much like Unaemon itself. Perhaps one of the most expensive options within Gochi Church Street Japan Kitchen itself, Unaemon specialises in serving up live eels grilled over Japanese charcoal; very similar to that of Michelin-starred Man Man Japanese Unagi Restaurant, Uya Japanese Unagi Restaurant, and Unagi Ichinoji offering items like Unajyu and Hitumabushi, as well as other side dishes and desserts as well. Whilst Unaemon does serve a small pot of green tea by the side for every table that walks in, patrons can also choose to go for the extensive list of alcoholic beverages available on the menu.
(Eeel Egg Roll)
Going for an item to share at the table, we went for the Eel Egg Roll; essentially a Tamagoyaki item that encases Unagi in the middle. Intended to be served as a savoury dish, the Tamagoyaki comes layered; soft and pillowy with a savoury flavour from the dashi broth that was used in its cooking process which is pretty unlike the sweeter versions that other establishments may serve up. The Eel Egg Roll also comes with a slightly smoky note, while the Unagi in the middle provides a contrast in terms of flavour and texture to the Tamagoyaki.
Served as part of a set, the Chawanmushi is pretty well-executed. Silken and smooth, the Chawanmushi was custard-like; savoury, yet carried a light hint of sweetness that went well together to create an umami note. Within the custardy steamed egg, the Chawanmushi comes with surprise elements such as shrimp and edamame; the former providing a natural hint of sweetness and some bite to the Chawanmushi for some contrast, whilst the latter was a great replacement to the usual Gingko nuts being used that often provides for a contrast of texture.
(Hitumabushi – Small)
Having skimmed through the limited number of mains available on the menu at Unaemon, we decided to go straight for the Hitumabushi; the Hitumabushi at Unaemon is available in three different sizes much like those of other Unagi specialty establishments; Small, Medium, and Large, which we had opted for the Medium. Each Hitumabushi also comes with a soup on the side, whilst also coming with other condiments such as seaweed, wasabi, spring onions and a pot of Dashi broth; patrons are encouraged to enjoy the Hitumabushi by first having it as-is to try its original flavour, before adding in the various condiments as well as going for the different peppers available on the side (Shicimi, Sansyo, Ao Sansyo and Sauce are all made available for the patrons at the table). Patrons are also highly encouraged to add in the Dashi broth on the side to have the Hitumabushi in the style of an Ochazuke to end it off altogether. Going straight for the Unagi, we found the Unagi pieces to be decently grilled; not too charred on the exterior, though some may find it lacking the smokiness that other places may serve theirs. That being said, the Unagi may also be scaley to some, though generally not too much of a bother for us; our favourite part was the glazing which was not particularly heavy, carrying enough flavour to further enhance the flavours of the Unagi overall without being overly salty nor overwhelming. The Unagi slices were also considered to be relatively plump, providing some bite with the fluffy and pearly short-grained rice at the bottom. The Ochazuke option would work best for those who may find the Hitumabushi a little bit dry; pouring in the Dashi broth into the rice, it helps to add some moisture to the grains as well as to the pieces of Unagi without washing away the flavours of the glaze, retaining all of the goodness while switching things up in terms of texture. Overall, a pretty satiating item to have that would most probably fit those who prefer lighter flavours, yet being able to taste the elements individually on their own.
Given its location in the Central Business District, Gochi Church Street Japan Kitchen certainly helps to add on to the various dining options already available in the neighbourhood for the office folks working here. Unaemon would most probably be more attractive as a dinner option; a spot that would work well for office folks in the area to treat themselves to on a day they would wish to splurge on a good meal, or a great dinner date location for couples or small gatherings. A place to add on to the list for Unagi lovers to visit!
Unaemon (located within Gochi Church Street Japan Kitchen)
23 Church Street