The tiny and unassuming space that Unagi Kabuto occupies hardly stands out in a city filled with shoebox operations serving delicious food. The lively atmosphere is what strikes you from the moment you walk in, as Kabuto is mostly populated with regulars exchanging drinks and banter with the chef.
Ordering here is reasonably easy, and the best way is to simply let the chefs decide what you eat. The ensuing meal is a study in eel. After your eel is killed right in front of your eyes, you are presented with the still beating, raw heart. Served with the instruction to gulp it down right away without chewing, there is very little gastronomic interest to this.
After this esoteric start, the meal here is fully focused on flavour, and has a comforting aspect to it that makes Unagi Kabuto a place one wishes were closer to home. Various parts of the eel are grilled and served on skewers dipped in sauce. The differences in texture between the fillets, and other parts such as the spine or innards are remarkable. After around 5-6 skewers, two versions of the fillet are served: one simply grilled with salt, the other glazed in the sauce. Both show a different aspect of the eel, and whilst the glased fillet has a comforting quality to it, the purity of the plainly grilled fillet is no less impressive.
Unagi Kabuto is not a pretentious restaurant. Rather, it is a place that purely focuses on serving remarkably well-cooked dishes. With its food entirely based on one product, it is a restaurant that could only exist in Japan. The combination of the warm atmosphere, and the superb food makes it a favourite in a city with endless offerings of good food.