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Shizuoka

Sumiyaki Unagi Shun

炭焼き鰻 瞬

Delicate yet bold cuisine that piques the interest and the palate time and again: enjoy the chef’s unique sensibility in this space where time passes ever so quietly. Sumptuous unagi eel is central to the cuisine at Sumibiyaki Unagi Shun, complemented by seasonal ingredients. As though escaping the earthly world, Shun’s new location includes an expansive garden and exquisite building and interior not possible in the metropolis.

Located in a quiet Shizuoka residential neighborhood, the atmospheric garden and interior are integral to the enjoyment of dining here. Opened in 2010, relocated in 2015, and moved again to the current location in July 2018, the final move was prompted by a sense that focusing on one’s cuisine is near impossible when too busy. Shun has gone from popular city restaurant to quietude among mountains. About 20 minutes by car from Shizuoka station, the somewhat tricky access doesn’t put off dedicated gourmands travelling from near and far. An entrance steeped in tea house style architecture and dressed with a simple navy draped noren leads you into a Japanese garden that speaks of the seasons with plum and maples carefully tended to by the chef owner. A large rock marks the spot he loves to stand and marvel at the mountain scenery.

The restaurant is a 50-year-old single level Japanese-style building renovated by a famous architect. The first item that catches the eye upon entering the building is an engraved sign with four characters. It means “Thank you for travelling from afar. Enjoy the feast.” Gifted by a long-standing customer, the artwork is the culmination of four individuals’ creativity: one who penned the words, another who selected the timber, the engraver, and the lacquer artisan. Chef Okada speaks often of feeling so blessed by his customers, and this story exemplifies just how much his customers adore him.

The chef chose a simple character for the restaurant’s name Shun, referencing the most delicious ingredients available each season, and was even in the process of ordering the signboard. But when the designer learned that Chef Okada’s father had a different character for shun in his name, it was changed to that one at the last minute. It means “blink” and seems to implore guests to be in this moment and be sure not to miss the chance to savor all its elements.

Gently remove your shoes and shuffle into the spacious seating area with a total of 12 seats at the counter and tables, each with a view of the beautiful garden. At the counter, the chef roasts unagi and all kinds of ingredients over charcoals, but because of the generous use of fragrant cedar for the ceiling and throughout, Shun doesn’t have that distinctive smell often experienced at unagi restaurants. A woodfired stove beside the customer tables was held for the chef for several years waiting for its moment to shine in this space.

To the right inside the entrance is a tatami mat room with a traditional tokonoma alcove, decorated with flowers in a hanging vase. Hanging near the front is an eye-catching sugidama cedar sprig ball, like those found at sake breweries to signal that new sake is ready. It’s a stunning space but it is totally untouched and unused. With just husband and wife running the restaurant, they are dedicated to offering the best possible hospitality and thus prefer all guests to be visible.

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CUISINE

Full-flavored plump flesh concealing luscious fat

A most unexpected answer comes to the question “why unagi?” Simply put, it’s because Chef Okada himself never liked it much. He wanted to create unagi cuisine that even naysayers would devour. With virtually no smell, many diners can’t go anywhere else once they’ve eaten unagi here. It’s Kanto-style preparation with Kansai-style roasting and development of aromas without the use of a fan. Okada elevates the ingredient into a stunning masterpiece, as beneath the savory, aromatic chargrilled surface lies full-flavored plump flesh concealing luscious fat. The base sauce, lovingly tended to daily by the chef with ingredients added as necessary, comes up light, translucent and silky. Perfecting the rice is also essential. Okada wants his rice to have strong presence – large plump grains with an obvious silhouette. That’s why he opts for a hagama pot, a traditional iron pot that allows him to make the most minute adjustments to temperature.

The lunch menu is an offering of unagi dishes starting with salad and ending with a generous bowl of rice topped with plump saucy unagi, with all kinds of delicacies in between. The restaurant’s kitchen garden is the source of the salad vegetables, accented by Okayama Prefecture pione grapes, a large-berry purple variety marinated in red wine and port. The homemade dressing is a mixture of onion puree, grainy mustard, sherry vinegar, oil and soy sauce. Next, the chef’s extremely simple Shirayaki dish highlights the innate flavors of unagi, simply grilled over charcoals and served with salt and sansho Japanese peppercorns. The liver taken from a freshly broken down eel is skewered before being dressed in soy sauce, mirin and other traditional seasonings before charcoal grilling, to create a dish called Kimoyaki. The gentle bitterness is a perfect match for sake. The flesh for the next exquisite dish known as Erimaki comes from the necks of 12 eels. Cooked inside silky umami-rich egg, the combination of smooth texture with succulent unagi flesh is sublime.

The final dish of Unaju is only available at lunchtime and contains generous pieces of unagi that have been dipped in the signature sauce three times in the process of charcoal grilling, for an elegant, aromatic finish and juicy, full texture. Chef Okada wants guests to try it without any sansho topping first. The round unagi serving dishes are Ikawa Mempa, a traditional Shizuoka craft in which cypress timber is treated with lacquer. The Shun collection has been re-lacquered three times in ten years, developing ever deeper character and beautifully complementing the restaurant’s extensive ceramic and timber tableware collection.

At nighttime, they serve the omakase course, an eight-dish course featuring unagi; a course of three unagi dishes and five others showcasing seasonal ingredients. Every visit is an exciting encounter with new ingredients and dishes, but if there’s something you’re desperate to savor again, Chef Okada is happy to respond to guests’ requests at the time of reservation. A particular favorite is beautifully aged Omi beef from Sakaeya butchers. With clean flavor that turns traditional notions of aged beef on their head, it has been grilled over charcoals and rested well before service. Available only for dinner, this is reason enough to visit after night falls.

INGREDIENTS
The exquisite ingredients are given premium treatment with chargrilling over Binchotan charcoal from Kochi Prefecture. Lake Hamana is a popular source of unagi, but Chef Okada specifically uses eels each weighing 222 grams. Rice is grown by a farmer in Shimane Prefecture who he trusts dearly. And sansho Japanese peppercorns, an essential complement to unagi, come from Wakayama Prefecture. They are presented in a mill allowing guests to sprinkle freshly milled peppercorns as they please. Tenbiran eggs are sent directly from the Oenosato Natural Farm in Tottori Prefecture, which the chef believes to be the best eggs he has ever eaten. A beautiful garden extends from the rear of the restaurant where the chef cultivates a colorful array of vegetables, like broccoli, daikon, and snow peas.

Sumiyaki Unagi Shun cuisine #0
Sumiyaki Unagi Shun cuisine #1

CHEF

Kenichi Okada

Kenichi Okada was born in Shizuoka Prefecture in 1974. At just 16 after graduating from junior high school, he started working at great heights as a construction worker. A year later he joined a Shimizu unagi restaurant where he worked diligently on his skills until age 32 – half of his life at that stage. He helped open an acquaintance’s restaurant for about two years, all the while contemplating his own path to independence. He first opened a small eatery in 2010, and it was popular enough to warrant a move in 2015. He then chose his current location and moved in July 2018. When you’re too busy, the chef says, your life work just becomes a string of tasks, and that’s not kind to guests. This sentiment prompted the move to this more remote location away from the nearest train station.

Chef Okada’s mentor is the now deceased Chef Kenichiro Nishi of Kyoaji, which had shared with Tokyo gourmands the flavors of Kyoto not influenced by food trends for half a century. Okada read all his books as a young chef and was so moved when he finally got to dine there that he penned a letter to the chef. It so surprised Chef Nishi, who found it such a rare gesture from a young chef that he sent an apprentice to visit Okada’s at-the-time fledgling eatery. It sparked a relationship between the two, with Okada visiting Kyoaji almost every month for a total of over 50 times to savor Nishi’s cuisine. To this day, Okada’s cuisine is deeply influenced by Chef Nishi, especially with regard to the use of ingredients without waste; many left a deep impression on Okada, but perhaps the most was a simmered dish of eggplant tops that had first been fried.

Of two days off each week, Okada dedicates one to enjoying foods in different towns and the other is spent among the vegetables of the Shun’s kitchen garden.

VISION
For Chef Okada, its all about quality over quantity, thus his constant priority is to greet guests day and night with the best he can give. He has visions of opening an auberge in several years, enabling guests to dine and stay, to truly savor the experience. He hopes to create a space where people can focus on their meal and forget, for a moment, the exhausting lives they lead in the metropolis.

PRODUCE

Until the move to this new location, tuna and beef had never featured on the menu. They are tricky ingredients and Okada wasn’t obsessed with any particular ingredient until personal relationships brought certain items to his attention. And then he could no longer ignore them. Aged Omi beef from Sakaeya in Shiga Prefecture managed by Yoshinobu Niiho, is sent direct to the restaurant. Different styles and cuts are chosen to suit Shun’s menu, including beef from cows that have already delivered calves. Equally exquisite is tuna delivered from Yamayuki at Toyosu Market. Run by Yukitaka Yamaguchi, the supplier is flooded with requests from premium sushi restaurants around Japan in search of the best tuna from Oma in Aomori and other renowned tuna-fishing ports. Both producers implored Chef Okada to incorporate their ingredients in his menu; premium produce is drawn here by his incredible cuisine.

Course

LUNCH
Unajyu lunch
  • The price includes our booking fee of ¥4,000
  • The price includes our booking fee of ¥4,000
¥10,000
¥10,000
Reservation Request
DINNER
Shun Omakase course
  • The price includes our booking fee of ¥4,000
  • The price includes our booking fee of ¥4,000
¥32,500
¥32,500
Reservation Request

Shizuoka

Sumiyaki Unagi Shun

炭焼き鰻 瞬

PRICE
¥10,000
~
CHILD
10
& UP
LUNCH
OPEN
MIN GUESTS
2
PEOPLE
~
GENRE
Unagi, Shizuoka
ADDRESS
1F, 静岡県 静岡市葵区 有永町 260-1
OPEN
Lunch: 11:30AM or 1PM, Dinner: 6PM
CLOSED
Monday and Tuesday
URL
na
PHONE
+81 54-294-7178

RESERVATION

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