I love Japanese food. But at the very top of my most favourite Japanese food list is unagi. And Singapore is blessed to have some of the best unagi restaurants from Japan.
None of them however, can beat the prices at Una Una in Bugis+.
One small serving of Hitsumabushi will only set you back $9.80++. You can upgrade to the regular size bowl for $14.80++, or go double portion if you’re hungry at $19.80++. That’s already cheaper than most Hitsumabushi in Singapore that usually go for over $20.
What’s Hitsumabushi? It’s a Nagoya-style unagi dish eaten 3 ways, where chopped unagi on rice is served with condiments like wasabi, spring onions, nori and dashi. Divide the unagi and rice into 4 halves. For each step, use the extra bowl provided.
The 1st way is to separate the rice and Unagi into the extra bowl and eat as-is.
The 2nd way is to separate the rice and Unagi into the extra bowl, and mix in the prepared condiments.
The 3rd way is to separate the rice and Unagi into the extra bowl, then add the dashi broth.
For the last half, eat the unagi and rice in your most favourite way.
Una Una practices a double-dipping technique, basting the unagi in their special house-made sauce (specially flown-in from Japan) twice before it goes over the charcoal grill for 10 minutes.
This results in Hitsumabushi that’s charred perfectly on the outside and tender on the inside. The broth was not too salty and is pleasing. I can confirm their dashi stock does not make you thirsty, a common gripe for run-of-the-mill dashi stock at most Japanese restaurants. My only tiny complaint has to be the lack of seaweed as condiments, but for this price point Una Una has a unique selling proposition to rival the established big boys.
You can also have this dish with a Kaisen ($18.80) mix of raw salmon and tuna chunks for a little variety. The unagi is superb though, and we recommend going all-in with the eel if you’re indecisive.
Those who prefer a familiar dish can order the Tokyo-style Unaju ($19.80 regular, $29.80 double) with chawanmushi on the side. This comes with a larger portion of rice, with the Unagi served as a whole unchopped. Unlike the Hitsumabushi, Unaju Unagi is grilled over charcoal fire twice for 6-8 minutes under heightened control, giving the Unagi a tender texture throughout the eel.
There’s also a mixed option with Salmon Ikura Ju ($26.80) or Beef Shabu Ju ($22.80). The latter is a good portion of US beef short plate that’s flavourful and easy to chew. There’s more beef strips than what the photo depicts.
At $14.80, there’s plenty of Hokkaido Grilled Squid to share. The squid, imported directly from Hokkaido, each slice is chewy yet full of flavour, with a succinct “wok hey” taste. It goes well with the mayo and grated ginger paste.
For an unagi specialist restaurant, I didn’t expect much from the Salmon Yonshu Mori ($28.80) I was proven wrong. Una Una doesn’t compromise on the quality of the succulent salmon belly, aburi salmon, salmon sashimi and salmon roe. Thick cuts galore, the aburi salmon was smoked well too.
The Philadelphia Roll ($12.80) left me wanting more. Aburi salmon is wrapped around a rice with cucumber and avocado, with the roll sitting on a bed of cream cheese. It’s a decent side dish but I wish it was more luscious. Definitely double down on the unagi if want to have more, like the Unagi Roll ($15.80) that I’m curious to try on my next visit.
Una Una is on the 4th floor of Bugis+. Once you come up the escalator, u-turn towards the Ramen Champion, and you should see a long queue of customers waiting on your left.