Last updated on September 23rd, 2023
A bowl of Hitsumabushi was undoable the best food I ate during my Nagoya food trip. Among all the restaurants, Hitsumabushi Atsuta Houraiken is the best restaurant serving for this Nagoya must eat.
Hitsumabushi is one of the Nagoya specialties that you have to try it for yourself when visiting Nagoya. It is a regional specialty dish from Nagoya, consisting of grilled eel or unagi over Japanese steamed rice. It is a well known Nagoya specialty and extremely popular among locals and travelers. Unlike the typical unagi donburi, Hitsumabushi is served in Nagoya style. The Japanese eel is cleaned by removing the bones from the belly without damage to the body. It is then coated with in-house sauce and grilled on open charcoal fire. In this way, you can taste the whole natural taste of the eel.
There are many hitsumabushi restaurants in Nagoya serving for this Nagoya specialty. Among them, we visited the Atsuta Houraiken Jinguten for a taste of this Nagoya best food. Continue to read on our food review in Atsuta Houraiten, one of the must-try food in Nagoya.
Hitsumabushi Atsuta Houraiken
Located nearby the Atsuta Shrine, Atsuta Houraiten is one of the popular restaurants in Nagoya. It is reputed to be the best Hitsumabushi specialty restaurant in Nagoya and serve the high-quality hitsumabushi for over 140 years. Founded in 1873, Atsuta Houraiten is the birthplace for this Nagoya must eat. The hitsumabushu also had been registered as a trademark.
Atsuta Houraiken is extremely popular and well patronized most of the time. So we choose went to Atsuta Houraiken for an early lunch. But still, there was a large crowd even in the weekday. Luckily, we were able to dine in after about one hour of the wait time. We took this opportunity to have a brief visit to Atsuta Shrine. But make sure to come back on time.
Atsuta Houraiken is an old Japanese style house with a little courtyard at the entrance. The dining area consists of Japanese low tables with cushions on the tatami floor. It is full of traditional and relaxing setting. Many locals enjoyed their food with friends and family.
Without hesitation, we ordered the most popular Hitsumabushi set and waited patiently. A bowl of Hitsumabushi is not cheap and can easily cost more than ¥3,500. But it worth it for this real delicacy.
Nagoya Best Hitsumabushi
Without a long wait, our set of Hitsumabushi was served. The tasty grilled eel was covered the entire big bowl and full of irresistible charred smell. We can’t wait to enjoy the freshness taste of the eel.
The grilling process of Hitsumabushi handles seriously. The Japanese eel is charcoal-grilled over high heat with binchotan, which is known to be the finest charcoal in Japan. This giving it a perfectly crispy skin yet locked down all the juices leaving the eel tender on the inside.
Moreover, the eel is added with the in-house secret sauce which has been passed on generations since 1873. The amount of sauce on the eel is just right which gives the dish a perfect rounded flavor. It is then put on top of rice in a wooden tub and serve to customer.
How To Eat Hitsumabushi
There are four ways to taste the Hitsumabushi, though it’s just three. But before this, you’re advise to divide the bowl of hitsumabushi into four portions. Next, try each portion with a ready small bowl.
Firstly, you are meant to eat the eel and rice on their own. This is also the best way to enjoy the natural taste of the eel.
Secondly, the eel and rice are mixed with prepared condiments like wasabi, radish, and finely chopped leeks. You will experience, literally, another dish which rich in flavor. It tastes so good.
In the third stage, pour the tea dashi soup stock into 1/4 portion of eel rice. It’s one of my favorite ways to enjoy the Hitsumabushi.
Lastly, choose to eat the remaining 1/4 portion of unagi rice in your favorite style. I voted for the unagi rice with dashi soup and it tastes amazing!
Food Review for Hitsumabushi Atsuta Houraiken
Overall, the hitsumabushi from Atsuta Houraiken was truly amazing. It was crispy on the outside but tender and soft within. I love its smokey charred texture. The right amount of sweet sauce gives its sweet taste without drowning out the natural flavors of the eel. You can feel the freshness and finest quality when eating the hitsumabushi from Atsuka Houraiken. While the sauce was fragrant and flavourful yet not too overpowering. The rice was also cooked to perfection. One of the favorite foods in the Nagoya!
In short, Atsuta Houraiken did not disappoint. It was the best unagi rice that I’ve had. It was superbly delicious and we enjoyed the grilled eel very much and highly recommended. The only downside is due to its popularity, there are usually long queues. So, be prepared to queue especially during peak hours. But it is worth the wait!
How To Get To Atsuta Houraiken
Atsuta Houraiken has four branches in Nagoya, two in the Matsuzakaya Department Store and the other two are traditional restaurants in the same neighborhood nearby Atsuta Shrine with walking distance from Tenma-cho Station Subway Station. One can smell the charcoal-grilled eels smell and smoke as you walked out of the station. For details and menu, please visit Atsuta Houraiken official website.
We recommend visit the Atsuta Houraiken Honten which is the oldest shop to taste the Nagoya must eat food.
- Getting there: 7 minutes walk from Exit 4 of Tenma-cho subway station, Meijo Line.
Alternative, Atsuta Houraiken Jinguten is another great option with Atsuta Shrine is just a few minutes away. You can take a short visit while waiting in the queue. But, remember to write down your name in the waiting list.
- Getting there: 3 minutes walk from Exit 1 of Tenma-cho subway station, Meijo Line.
Last but not least, free feel to continue read on my Chubu travel post to attractions in the Chubu region, including Takayama, Shirakawago, Kamikochi, Kanazawa, Tateyama and more.
Nagoya Travel Guide Blog (Itinerary, food guide and accommodation guide):
- Nagoya Itinerary: A Guide For Things To Do in Nagoya
- Where To Stay in Nagoya: The Best Hotels and Areas
- Nagoya Food Guide: What To Eat in Nagoya
- Sekai no Yamachan: Nagoya Famous Tebasaki
Related Chubu region travel blog: