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Unagi Fujita

Review excerpt: Unagi Fujita is a venerable ryōtei (traditional high-class restaurant) based in Hamamatsu, Shizuoka Prefecture, Japan’s de facto unagi capital, thanks to the eel farms in nearby Lake Hamanako. The restaurant already has a branch in western Tokyo; now it has arrived in the center of the city.

On the third floor of a new building overlooking Gaien-Nishi-dori, Shirokanedai’s main boulevard, Fujita exudes quiet refinement: From the snow white noren curtain at the entrance to the soft soundtrack of koto music and the manager in kimonoed finery.

Equally reassuring is the grill that greets you front and center as you step through the door, with a chef carefully fanning glowing coals behind the protective glass. As with any ingredient, unagi is so much tastier when cooked over charcoal. This is borne out when you try the shirayaki, a fillet that is simply grilled until lightly crisp and served with a dab of grated wasabi root, without masking the flavor of the fish.