Here’s Why Eating Unagi Is a Summer Tradition in Japan
It's perfect remedy for what they call "natsu bate."
In Japan, there is such a thing as natsu bate. While it has no direct translation in English, it basically means being listless and lacking motivation during the summer season, when the heat and humidity zaps away the body’s energy. Doyo no Ushi no Hi (July 27 in 2019) is a unique Japanese tradition wherein you eat eel or unagi, which is said to be very nutritious, containing vitamins A and B, which help with recovering from fatigue and promoting one’s appetite—perfect for natsu bate.
Unagi is mostly associated with grilled food. But did you know that there are many ways to eat unagi? At the popular chain Umaimono Ippai Irohanihoheto they offer Zeppin Unagi Shabu-Shabu (Absolute Eel Shabu-shabu) for their banquet-style meal or enkai this summer.
In this enkai menu, the highlight of the meal is the Zeppin Unagi Shabu-Shabu, where the grilled eel has a moderate level of fat and has a fluffy, almost soufflé-like texture. You can enjoy the taste of the eel with the light taste of the kelp soup. This hearty dish helps take away the sweltering heat of the summer.
Other dishes you can enjoy are the Satsuma-age no Sakura-Iro Tempura, made with fish cakes and red-pickled ginger, and the Tokibi Green Salad, made with large pieces of tokibi sweetcorn and corn flakes. The colorful green and yellow salad has various textural contrasts.
At the end of the meal, enjoy the unagi broth with rice with Unagi Meshi (or unagi rice) with hot rice swimming with the delicious umami taste of the unagi. It is the perfect shime, or what Japanese people call the end of a feast.
The entire enkai menu is composed of 8 dishes, and costs ¥4,500 per person, all-you-can-drinks inclusive. Bring your barkada or families soon because the limited menu is only available until September 2, 2019.
Umaimono Ippai Irohanihoheto currently has 4 branches in Tokyo, 2 branches in Saitama Prefecture, 6 branches in Kanagawa Prefecture, and 1 branch in Shizuoka Prefecture. For more details, check out their site here (in Japanese).