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Nihonbashi Tamai

The type of eel Tamai serves is anago (a type of conger or sea eel), rather than the more usual unagi (freshwater eel). In the old days, anago was more of a bit-part fish, commonly batter-fried at tempura restaurants or lightly simmered and served as sushi. Rarely is it elevated to the starring act on a menu, as it is here. The specialty of the house is hako-meshi — think of it as anago dolled up to look like unagi. The conger is filleted, simmered and then grilled and basted with a dark soy sauce and served over white rice in a rectangular faux-lacquer box.