Forget eel rice bowls – have you ever had an eel rice bucket? At 1-starred Gion Uokeya U, their signature dish is a wooden bucket filled with rice and eels. What an experience!
Gion Uokeya U – image © Chris Rowthorn
Duck into a side street just west of Hanamikoji Street in Gion, close to Kennin-ji Temple, and you’ll find a tiny machiya serving up some of the best eel in town. This is Gion Uokeya U, a 1-starred Michelin restaurant run by a Living National Treasure – someone who preserves important and intangible aspects of Japanese culture. Grilled eel definitely falls into that category!
At Gion Uokeya U, their signature dish is the Uoke – a cedar bucket filled with rice and grilled unagi fillets brushed with a sweet soy sauce. Originally created for delivering to households, the bucket is not for solo diners – their smallest bucket serves 3 diners! A bucket begins at JPY10,000 and goes up to JPY16,380 for 5 diners.
That being said, you can still go alone if you prefer. Just order the unadon (unagi rice bowl) or kabayaki set (an eel lunch set). If you have the stomach space, the side dishes are worth ordering. We like the “umaki,” slabs of tender omelette encasing an unagi center. Adventurous eaters will enjoy the kimoyaki, a skewer of unagi innards. It tastes sweeter and milder than you think!
Eel isn’t a cheap meal, but considering the increasing scarcity and higher price of eels these days, eating at Gion Uokeya U still proves decent value for money. Having a Michelin star certainly doesn’t hurt either. Reservations are strongly recommended, especially if you’re travelling in groups.
For more Kyoto unagi choices, see our Best Unagi In Kyoto page.
Name in English:
Gion Uokeya U
Name in Japanese:
祇をん う桶や う
570-120 Gionmachi-minamigawa, Nishihanamikoji-dori-Shijo-sagaru, Higashiyama-ku
Closed Monday or the following Tuesday when Monday is a national holiday
Non-smoking area: Completely Non-Smoking
5min walk from Gion-shijo Station Exit 6, Keihan line
Official site (Japanese)
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