Enjoy Three Flavors in One Meal! 5 Places to Try the Famous Nagoya Dish Hitsumabushi

Nagoya is a city in Aichi. It is located one hour from Osaka by bullet train and two hours from Tokyo by the same method. There are many famous tourist spots in the city, including Nagoya Castle. It is also the birthplace of many famous gourmet dishes including Miso Katsu and Nagoya Cochin. Here is another of those dishes, hitsumabushi, and five of the best restaurants to try it out!

Nagoya

Food & Drink

What is hitsumabushi?

PIXTA

Hitsumabushi is different from the standard unagi grilled eel dish. It is served in a wooden ohitsu (a container made from cedar and cypress used for storing rice) and the kabayaki (grilled and dipped in sauce) eel fillets are cut in 1 cm strips which are then placed over sauce-coated rice for a luxurious finish. Even the methods for consuming the dish are unique, with the standard being to take the first third as is, cover the second third in a wasabi and onion glaze, and then soak the last third in tea. This three-in-one pleasure factor has made it one of Nagoya's most famous gourmet dishes!

1. Atsuta Horaiken 

Atsuta Horaiken's specialty is without a doubt their secret sauce. The sauce and the restaurant have a long history, going back all the way to 1873! The recipe has maintained the same elegance for all those 140 years and is truly the ultimate hitsumabushi experience. In addition to a standard-sized plate of hitsumabushi (3,600 yen), the one and one-half sized plate has volume enough for one and a half customers (5,100 yen).

The exterior of the restaurant exudes high-class traditional Japanese atmosphere. As they also have elegant kaiseki ryori course meals, it is a perfect place for celebrations and special events. If you're visiting Nagoya, surely you wouldn't want to pass up a meal that represents 140 years of tradition!

[About Atsuta Horaiken]

Opening Hours: 11:30AM-2:00PM, 16:30PM-8:30PM

Closed: Every Wednesday, as well as the second and fourth Thursdays of each month (*Open on holidays)

Access: Seven minute walk from Nagoya Subway's Tenmacho Station, accessible via the Meijo Line 

Address: 503 Godocho, Atsuta-ku, Nagoya, Aichi Prefecture (Google Map)

HP: www.houraiken.com/english/

HP: www.houraiken.com/ (Japanese)

2. Hitsumabushi Bincho, Dai Nagoya Building 

pimtha

 

As can be inferred from the title, this restaurant cooks its eel on a grill using bincho charcoal (a high quality type of charcoal). The results have none of the usual fish smell of unagi but still manage to condense all of its wonderful flavor into every bite. The sauce, too, is made from high quality ingredients, including tamari soy sauce and specially selected mirin and sugar. Despite having so many things going for it,  the highlight of the meal still remains the charcoal flavor of the unagi -- it will outdo anything you have tried before! Visitors can choose from a standard dish of hitsumabushi (3,100 yen, before tax) , a variety with extra rice called "Tokujo Hitsumabushi" (5,500 yen, before tax), and a wide selection of other options.

Located in the urban heart of Nagoya, Hitsumabushi Bincho is as popular as any restaurant in Tokyo, Osaka, or Hakata. They even have a take-home Dashi-zuke Hitsumabushi meal (3,100 yen before tax) so you can enjoy their offerings even when you don't have time to wait for a seat! Please note there is also a Hitsumabushi Bincho location in the Eska underground shopping complex beneath Nagoya Station.

[About Hitsumabushi Bincho, Dai Nagoya Building]

Opening Hours: 11:00AM-3:30PM, 5:00PM-11:00PM (*11:00AM-6:00PM on New Year's Eve, 11:00AM-8:00 PM on January 2nd)

Closed: January 1 and days when the Dai Nagoya Building is closed

Access: One minute walk from Nagoya Station, accessible via all major JR lines

Address: Dai Nagoya Building 3F, Kakueki 3-28-12, Nakamura-ku, Nagoya, Aichi (Google Map)

HP: hitsumabushi.co.jp/ (Japanese)*Machine translation available

[About Hitsumabushi Bincho, Eska]

Opening Hours: 11:00AM-3:30PM, 5:00-10:00PM

Closed: No regular holidays (*Closed on days when the Eska Market is closed)

Access: Eska Market connected to Nagoya Station, accessible via all major JR lines

Address: Eska Underground Market, 6-9  Tsubaki Machi, Nakamura-ku, Nagoya, Aichi (Google Map)

HP: hitsumabushi.co.jp/esca/(Japanese)

3. Hitsumabushi Uya

Hitsumabushi Uya specializes in dishes made from domestically cultivated eel. While all domestic eel are raised in excellent conditions, Uya selects only the fattest varieties, making for generous portions. For rice, too, they use only the best domestic brands, selected for their taste, sheen, and softness. The results bring out the flavor of the unagi to its maximum extent. For recommendations, try the Dai Hitsumabushi-Kanyaki-iri, made from the livers of 2 or three giant eel (4,490 yen). The portion size does not disappoint and you simply must try them!

Besides hitsumabushi, they also offer many other eel-based dishes including umaki rolls (egg sushi rolls with eel inside them) for 1300 yen and uka, an original type of unagi sushi for 2,380 yen. Adults and kids alike will find something they love so why not stop by with your family!

[About Hitsumabushi Uya]

Opening Hours: 11:00AM-2:30PM, 5:00PM-9:00PM

Closed: No regularly scheduled holidays

Access: Two minute walk from Sogo Rehabilitation Center, exit 2, accessible via the Nagoya Municipal Subway Meijo Line

Address: Yatomichō, Sakuragaoka-6, Mizuho-ku, Nagoya, Aichi (Google Map)

HP:www.hitsumabushiuya.com/shop/index.html(Japanese only)

4. Hitsumabushi Inou, Eska Location

Inou is one of Nagoya's most famous hitsumabushi restaurants. It is always ranked among the top in popularity and serves eel that are selected every day from the local fish market. The eel are then cut and grilled using their secret sauce, a tradition kept alive since the restaurant's founding. On the menu, you'll find Hitsumabushi (2,560 yen) and Ue Hitsumabushi (3,280 yen), as well as rice dishes like Magurobutsu-don (840 yen) and Oyako-don.

Inou have three locations in Nagoya and one in Mie. This Eska location was renovated in November 2016 and is now twice its original size with a modern Japanese interior and atmosphere. There are counter seats inside, so it's a great place to visit alone as well as in groups. Its convenient location beneath Nagoya Station also makes it easy to stop by when you're in there area!

[About Hitsumabushi Inou, Eska Location ]

Opening Hours: 11:00AM-9:30PM

Closed: Irregular holidays (Days when the Eska building is closed)

Access: Connected to Nagoya Station Eska Underground market, accessible via Nagoya station on all major JR lines

Address: Eska Underground Market, 6-9  Tsubaki Machi, Nakamura-ku, Nagoya, Aichi (Google Map)

HP: www.ciao-morita.co.jp/inou/index.html(Japanese only)

5. Hitsumabushi Shirakawa

While their unagi is of course delicious, Shirakawa is best known for the tea they use in the ochazuke portion of the hitsumabushi meal.  This is not your normal Japanese green tea. Instead, it's made with a specially mild dashi that balances perfectly with the taste of the unagi, sauce, and glaze, all while exuding an intoxicating aroma. What's more, their prices are also quite reasonable, including Shirakawa Hitsumabushi for a mere 2,040 yen and a mini Hitsumabushi at 1,730 yen, for those who like smaller portions.

If you don't have time to visit the restaurant itself, Shirakawa also sells box lunches at the underground market below JR Nagoya Station's Takashimaya Department Store. Now you can enjoy the wonderful taste of  Hitsumabushi anywhere. 

[About Hitsumabushi Shirakawa]

Opening Hours: 11:00-3:00 PM, 5:00-9:30 PM

Closed: No regular holidays

Access: Located in Sakae Gas building B1, one minute walk from Yabacho Station, accessible via the Nagoya Municipal Subway's Meijo Line 

Address: Sakae Gas Building B1, 3-15-33 Sakae, Naka-ku, Nagoya, Aichi (Google Map)

HP: hitsumabushi.jp/shirakawa (Japanese Only)

 

[About Hitsumabushi Shirakawa, JR Nagoya Station Takashimaya Location]

Opening Hours: 10:00AM-8:00PM

Closed: No regular holidays (Closed on days when JR Nagoya Station's Takashimaya branch is closed)

Access: B1 JR Nagoya Takashimaya, connected to JR Nagoya Station, accessible via all major JR lines

Address: JR Nagoya Takashimaya B1, Kakueki 1-1-4, Nakamura-ku, Nagoya, Aichi (Google Map)

HP: hitsumabushi.jp/jr (Japanese Only)

 

When it comes to gourmet dishes, Nagoya offers more than just hitsumabushi. The area is also home to Nagoya Castle, the Toyota Automobile Museum, and many other tourist spots that make it perfect for travel! You should definitely make the trip if you have a chance.

The information in this article is accurate at the time of publication.

Things to Do

Hotels & Ryokan

Shopping

Restaurant Search