Obana is certainly not the most illustrious of Tokyo’s unagi restaurants. How could it be when most of the flash money lies west of the Ginza, not up in blue-collar Arakawa-ku? But there are plenty of people, especially those of humbler birth, who will go to the grave swearing by the name of their ancestors that nowhere in the city prepares broiled eel better than this.

As with all the best things in life, a meal at Obana requires time — plus a certain sense of adventure. Unless you live to the northeast of Ueno, you will first have to budget in the half hour it takes by train (or subway) out to Minami-Senju, where the JR station is so quaint you could be out in rural Ibaraki-ken.

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