Kochfreunde.com is the culinary magazine of Oliver Wagner. Here, everything revolves around the almost most beautiful thing in the world: good food. The focus ranges from reports on exciting restaurants to recipes from his own kitchen, cookbooks and culinary gadgets.


Kochfreunde.com ist das kulinarisches Magazin von Oliver Wagner. Hier dreht sich alles rund um die beinahe schönste Sache der Welt: Gutes Essen. Dabei reicht der Fokus von Berichten über spannende Restaurants bis hin zu Rezepten aus der eigenen Küche, Kochbücher und kulinarische Gadgets.

Unagi – eel in Japanese

We arrive in Kyoto with the Sanyo Shinkansen on time at 12:28. Since the train engineer apparently didn’t have an eye for the extraordinarily beautiful scenery past Mt. Fuji and through the endless green tea fields of southwest Japan, we master the 480km in exactly 2.18 hours. The midday heat turns the platform into a merciless blazing oven after what feels like -2 degrees in the train compartment. The reading is 39 degrees and will later be reported as the second highest reading of the year.

 Kyoto is the most visited city in Japan after Tokyo and the center of attraction for culturally interested people from all over the world due to its seemingly endless number of shrines, temples and architectural monuments illustrating the imperial past. Also culinary the city possesses world-wide a magic attraction, are alone nevertheless SEVEN 3-Sterne, EINUNDZWANZIG 2-Sterne and DREIUNDSIEBZIG 1-Sterne restaurants in the city.

Our arrival time in Kyoto, the time of year and the temperature associated with it, had a reason that originated in the Japanese tradition of eating eels. Since the Edo period, eating eel (unagi) on hot summer days in Japan has been considered the best, if not the cure-all, for summer fatigue (natsubate), which is very common in Japan. Eel’s high fat and vitamin B1 content gives it enough strength to withstand the heat (and humidity). On the day of the ox (doyou no ushi no hi), so the tradition, the consumption of unagi brings new strength and luck and is offered in all variations.  Somerecognize but also a resourceful marketing idea behind this construct to survive the not so well visited hot summer months.

However, the restaurant we selected is immune from this accusation and radiates with its Michelin star something special, but in this house for over 25 years “exclusively” Unagi of the highest quality is offered. The unagi restaurant “
Uokeya U
” is located in the traditional and former geisha quarter.
in the middle of the small streets lined with old wooden houses (among other things, the movie “The Geisha” was filmed here). The tiny guest room with 5 tables is located on the 1st floor and is already well attended when we arrive. It quickly becomes clear why we were advised to make a reservation, as we see behind us two groups of culinarily interested French people who are inconsolable about the hopeless situation of being able to get hold of a free table today and are now challenged to find a palate-pleasing alternative.

After a short study of the clear menu, we decide on the classic of the Uokeya U, the
Unagi Tub
 (Kabayaki). For this purpose, hand-picked eels from the Hamanako Lake are opened lengthwise from the back, fixed on bamboo skewers and grilled on Japanese charcoal from Kumano (“
“) grilled. Then the eels are cleaned and steamed in mineral water. Finally, as a highlight, the eel undergoes embalming with a secret tincture. The anticipation of this simple but explosive taste experience is enhanced when you look into the many happy, almost teary eyes of our table neighbors after opening the wooden container made of cedar wood, which was made by Kiyotsugu Nakagawa (officially recognized and appointed human cultural property of Japan) and in which the eel is served resting on steaming rice. The eel combined with locally produced sake of good quality is a revelation and strengthens for the day even if I find the dish also suitable in winter. (Important: for sake do not resort to low-cost alternatives. Then it is better to leave it out)

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