Nihonbashi Tamai1/2
Photo: Keisuke TanigawaNihonbashi Tamai
Nihonbashi Tamai2/2

Best anago restaurants in Tokyo

Saltwater conger eel, or anago, is a Tokyo speciality, and these top restaurants serve it in many styles: grilled, sashimi, deep-fried etc

By Kirsty Bouwers

Anago (saltwater conger eel) is the less-fatty, seafaring brother of the more well-known unagi, or freshwater eel. It’s also significantly less rare, with unagi hovering on the endangered species list for years, making anago a more regular menu item. As the fish is native to Tokyo Bay, it has made its way into local cuisine in various guises, enjoyed for its clean, delicate taste.

Both anago tempura and simmered anago as a sushi topping are considered Tokyo specialities, but anago is also commonly served in preparations similar to unagi: either with a sweet-savoury kabayaki sauce, or in a plainly grilled style known as shirayaki. The bones (roasted and deep-fried for a cracker-like texture) and livers (grilled on a stick, known as kimoyaki) are prized bar snacks, while anago sashimi is slowly gaining popularity among those in the know.

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Get your anago fix here


Restaurants Japanese Ginza

An upscale anago specialist in equally upscale Ginza, Hakarime has built its entire menu around conger eels – yet the prices here are surprisingly affordable for the area. Don’t miss the assorted anago sashimi and anago nihonshu (hot sake served with a floating piece of grilled conger eel head), which you can only find at a few places in the city.

Nihonbashi Tamai

Restaurants Japanese Nihonbashi

This classic restaurant is housed in a handsome wooden building that dates back to 1953 and is perhaps the city’s most venerable purveyor of anago with all the trimmings. Come here if you want to enjoy the eel in its entirety; aside from the classic grilled anago on rice, you’ll also find the bones and livers on the menu, along with eel-themed Hello Kitty figurines.


Asakusa Kawai

Restaurants Japanese Asakusa

Formerly known as Anataro, this small, homely restaurant is run by a husband-and-wife duo, who delight in serving up innovative eel combinations alongside a rare domestic booze list. Think anago with uni, and anago yukhoe (eel tartare with raw egg yolk).


Restaurants Tempura Kudanshita

At Kudanshita's Momose, make sure to order the Anago Baraage-don, a bowl of rice with tempura conger eel on top. The crispy fried eel is cut into bite-size pieces and heaped up with plenty of shiso leaf, while the rice is covered in layers of seaweed with sesame and flavoured with a touch of special sauce. Extra sauce and Japanese pepper are placed on the side, allowing you to customise freely. Note that as you will have to queue up for lunch, it's best to arrive promptly around opening time.

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