Sunday, 19/05/2024 01:51

Mutsumian – fresh unagi hits Hà Nội

By Hamy Nguyễn

Freshwater eels (or unagi in Japanese) are prized for their delicate texture and deep flavour. Typically, unagi is used to make the well-known Unadon, a traditional Japanese cuisine that consists of grilled unagi topped with steamed rice and a sweet soy sauce. Sounds so easy, yet I think Unadon's rich culinary legacy and decadent simplicity are adored around the world. It may seem obvious, but having high-quality unagi is essential to a decent Unadon.

Yasai salad.  VNS Photos Hamy Nguyễn

Right at the time I heard about it, I decided to go immediately with some of my friends. 

The restaurant has very little parking, which is the first thing to notice. There was only space for a few motorcycles in front of the restaurant, so even though I got there very early – around 6.30pm – I still had trouble finding a spot to park.

Mutsumian has very little parking.

With three pages of menu, featuring over 20 distinct eel dishes, this Japanese restaurant lives true to its name – it's speciality is eel. Furthermore, you are welcome to order additional food from the restaurant, which serves rice dishes, sashimi, snacks, and various charcoal-grilled Wagyu beef options.

Yasai salad (VNĐ70,000) is the first appetiser and is just a classic green salad. It's nothing spectacular; in fact, we ordered this dish just to add fibre to the meal. I found that the sauce-to-salad ratio a little excessive for what I would anticipate from a light salad. However, the salad was very full for the price.

Picked Chicken Nanban.

We ordered Picked Chicken Nanban (VNĐ130,000), the second dish, on the advice of the waiter. It has bite-sized deep-fried chicken pieces with tartar sauce on top and shredded cabbage on the side. I adore how juicy and non-fatty the chicken is, especially when paired with the slightly acidic tartare sauce. With its lovely blend of tanginess and umami richness, it's definitely a comfort food.

Going to a Japanese restaurant and not ordering sashimi feels strange, so we settled on a small order of mixed sashimi (VNĐ650,000). Thankfully, unlike other restaurants, we could select the kind of fish we desire. We ended up going with four different options: salmon, solefish, yellowtail and Japanese tuna. I'll rank them as follows based on my personal taste scale: solefish, yellowtail, Japanese tuna and salmon in order. 

Assorted sashimi of salmon, solefish, yellowtail and Japanese tuna.

The solefish was definitely the best with slight firmness that melts in the mouth; the yellowtail has a creamy mouthfeel and subtle sweetness; the tuna had a firm texture with a clean taste; and the salmon was silky but quite plain. Overall, I still like the sashimi here, especially, as the slices were evenly cut, and uniform in thickness. True sashimi should be like that. 

At last, the meal we had been anticipating most arrived: an unagi rice bowl. Naturally, we went for the double unagi special (VNĐ549,000).

First, I noticed that fresh eel was somewhat more soft, tender, and fishy than frozen eel, which typically has a slightly firmer texture. The delicate yet robust aroma of fresh unagi flavour tantalises the palette, presenting a symphony of savoury and somewhat sweet notes that dance over your taste buds.

The tip is not to mix everything together, which could destroy the satisfaction of having a big bite of unagi. Take spoonfuls of rice, eel and sauce to feel the delicate umami notes and a trace of smokiness. The texture provides a satisfying bite that melts effortlessly in your mouth. It is not a lie that when writing these words, I'm craving it again.

Unagi rice bowl.

Mutsumian is the only establishment in Hà Nội that serves authentic unagi today, and the prices are fair. In Japanese cuisine, the quality and freshness of the ingredients are always the most crucial factors.

Mutsumian has demonstrated the excellence and purity of its ingredients, providing a unique gastronomic experience that honours the unadulterated essence of unagi. VNS



Address: 52A Linh Lang St, Ba Đình Dist, Hà Nội 

Tel: 0774683939

Price: VNĐ70,000– 850.000 

Comment: Traditional, fresh, private, casual, tranquil


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