If you have ever walked through the Neil Road pedestrian underpass connecting Keong Siak Road and Duxton at around lunch time, you would have come across the long queue stretching out in front of Man Man Unagi Restaurant.
The Japanese restaurant is famed for its freshly cooked freshwater eels, also known as unagi. Hence, even though personally not a big fan of the grilled eel dish, with its reputation and rave reviews from those who had been before, I was looking forward to trying out the food at Man Man Unagi Restaurant.
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Our party arrived at 11.10 am, 20 minutes before the restaurant’s official opening time of 11.30 am. Already, the queue had started forming and even though the skies were darkening above us, the line remained steadfast and resolute.
“It is ok, this is nothing compared to theme parks queues,” was the thought that ran through my mind to console myself.
Promptly, the doors opened at 11.30 am and we shuffled our way forward, eventually being ushered up the steep flight of stairs into Man Man Unagi Restaurant.
The restaurant sits around 40 patrons at a time. This means that the interior is quite tight, almost reminiscent of the restaurants in Tokyo.
Take note that parties only get seated when everyone is present – so make sure that everyone in your party arrives on time to avoid being stranded outside.
Inside Man Man Unagi Restaurant
Close to the entrance is a tank filled with live eels.
There are tables right next to the tanks. However, some say that you can smell the eels from these seats – which is a good reason to arrive early to get the seats further inside.
The eels are grilled behind a glass window, cooked in view of patrons with grill-side seats.
We ordered from the set menu which – no surprises here – mainly consisted of eel dishes.
Succulent and Flavourful
The food arrived quickly.
The bento-style serving included unagi on rice, pickles and a fresh wasabi which had to be grated against a metal grate. It also came with a “teapot” of dashi stock and a bowl of soup.
The unagi was grilled nicely. It was both succulent and flavourful. For those who like the sweet sauce it gets grilled with, additional sauce is available at the table to add on for extra flavour.
The freshly grated wasabi can be added on to give the dish a bit of bite.
An alternative way of eating the unagi is with dashi stock. Add it in with the rice in a bowl and you will get a “porridge” of sorts.
Personally, we preferred the unagi with the rice.
We also had Man Man Unagi Restaurant’s Umaki or Japanese eel rolled omelette. This is yet another preparation to enjoy unagi. The omelette was sweet and fluffy but seemed to overwhelm the eel.
The service at Man Man Unagi Restaurant is highly efficient and with the queues of hungry customers waiting outside in the open, it is understandable why.
Nonetheless, we did feel slightly rushed as the waiters quickly cleared the trays once we were done. The efficient nature of the dining experience is par for the course. The restaurant isn’t a place to linger about with friends and family after a meal.
For unagi fans who love eel, the Man Man Unagi Restaurant at Keong Siak Road delivers on taste. It is a place to visit if you don’t mind the queues and overly-efficient service in exchange for a good serving of unagi.
Man Man Japanese Unagi Restaurant
Where: 1 Keong Saik Road, #01-01, Singapore 089109