Japanese eels are stirring in Paris

Hitonari Tsuji

15th March, 2023

When I lived in Shimokita (Shimokitazawa, a trendy cultural district steeped in the atmosphere of old Tokyo), I was a regular at the Nodaiwa restaurant, which was very famous for cooking eel. Its head office was in Azabu Jyuban, a district that I also frequented a lot. Since then, I have associated eel with Nodaiwa. 

When I moved to Paris, I was very surprised to learn that this restaurant existed in the capital. It was no coincidence that a successor had opened in Paris. I took this as a sign that I could envisage my future here. Today, Nodaiwa is so successful that you have to book. Yet I would have thought that the French would be perplexed to know that you can enjoy this fish, which is part of their culinary repertoire, with sweet sauce. Eel kabayaki is prepared as follows: the fish is cut open lengthwise, the bones are removed and it is put on a spit. Then it is grilled and seasoned with soy sauce, mirin, sugar and sake before being grilled again over a wood fire. It's similar to teriyaki, you know?

Very often in eel restaurants you have the choice between unaju and unadon. In reality, both dishes are similar, with rice and eel, it is only the container that is different. One is served in a box, the other in a bowl. However, the box contains a larger portion of fish and small dishes, such as a clear broth and a special preparation, accompany it. Surprisingly, compared to the bowl, it has a luxurious aura. You can also choose the weight of the portion of eel, between 180 and 240 grams, expressed as a grade, from 'normal' to 'ultimate'. Naturally, the price increases with the quantity.

We must not forget the spice called sancho. It is a very fragrant berry that grows in shrubs and is used in Japanese cuisine. The lemony aftertaste and the tingling sensation specific to this condiment enhance the flavour of the eel. Amongst the connoisseur Asian tourists and the French in the midst of culinary discovery, I take a seat at a table and savour with delight the perfect marriage between grilled eel and sake.


272 Rue Saint-Honoré, 75001 Paris

Original text


鰻専門店に行くと、鰻重と鰻丼の二種類がだいたいどこの店にも置かれてある。種明かしをすると、重箱 にご飯、その上に鰻を載せたものを鰻重 という。 鰻丼の場合はこれが丼になる。器の違いだけで、中身に差はない。

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Hitonari Tsuji