Japan: Unagiya Hirokawa

CK and I spent our last full day in Kyoto exploring the Arashiyama area.  We got there early and were fortunate enough to get photos in the bamboo grove while it was relatively empty of tourists.  (We did see a couple groups of Japanese schoolkids on field trips, but we didn't mind capturing their cute little uniforms in our pictures.)

After the bamboo grove, we slowly wandered through the neighborhood, with the Adashino-Nenbutsu-ji as a vague end goal.  We eventually made it there, but we enjoyed strolling around almost aimlessly in the light rain.  Nothing to set the mood like old Japanese temples and misting rain.

By the time we made our way back to the main street, there were a lot more people out and about.  We looked around for a place to have lunch and finally ended up at Unagiya Hirokawa, which looked more like a residential home than a restaurant:  

There was a huge line outside the restaurant winding down and around a ramp.  An Hirokawa staff member came down the line to check party sizes.  She informed us that the wait would be two hours.  CK and I looked at each other, looked out at the by then pouring rain, shrugged, and then settled in for the long wait.

Eventually, we made it inside:

We ordered the small unagi donburi, which cost 2100 yen or around $21:

For those of you who have never heard of unagi before, it's basically grilled eel.  Delicious, delicious grilled eel.

We also ordered the B course, which included a medium sized unagi donburi:

Kimoyaki or grilled eel liver on a skewer:

Koi no arai or half-boiled fresh carp with a miso-based dipping sauce:

Uzaku or pieces of grilled eel on a bed of cucumber pickled in sweetened vinegar:

And the choice between clear broth and miso soup.  CK wanted to try the clear broth:

The B course cost 5000 yen or $50.  Definitely not an everyday meal (unless you have the money to burn).  As with most places we went to in Japan, we had to ask ourselves, was it worth it?  In this case, I would have to say yes.  (Though I probably wouldn't get a set course again.) 

Sometimes when you eat unagi, you might get a couple thin bones in your mouth, which isn't very pleasant.  No bones at Hirokawa though.  I've never had unagi that soft before.  It almost melted in my mouth.

While we were at Hirokawa, we noticed a group of ladies most likely in their 50s having a girls' day out at the table next to us.  CK and I agreed that it should be our goal to be just like those ladies when we get that age.  Ditching the kids once in a while to hang with friends and eat good food sounds like just the way to truly enjoy life.



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