With its old-school wooden frontage and bold white noren curtain, the chances of you missing Kurocyodo are slim. No prizes for guessing what the specialty is here: The calligraphy for unagi (freshwater eel) is unmistakable.
Kurocyodo (pronounced Kuro-Cho-Do) is an offshoot of the equally imposing Hyorokutei eel restaurant on the upper fringes of Shibuya. As at the original, you will need to budget both money — it’s been years now since unagi qualified as a low-cost “food of the common people” — and a good chunk of time.
Until you place your order, the eels are alive in their tank at one end of the open kitchen. If you’re seated at the counter, you can observe as they are pinned and filleted, still writhing, and then slowly grilled over charcoal. This is not for those in a hurry — or who are squeamish.
All the classics are offered, from simple unagi donburi rice bowls (lunchtime only) to unajū (served on rice in lacquerware boxes), and even cooked in donabe claypots or as shabu-shabu. These dishes are prepared using fish-farmed eels. Occasionally, Kurocyodo also has eel caught from the wild, but be prepared to splash out considerably more cash for that.
Unadon (lunch only) from ¥2,300, unajū from ¥3,800; unagi shabu-shabu ¥8,800 (reservation required). Full-course eel menu from ¥12,000; Japanese menu; little English spoken
IN FIVE EASY PIECES WITH TAKE 5