昇鳗鱼家(Sheng Eel House)- My eel dreams answered

Hi!!! The weeks of celebration are over, but not before graduation!!!

 I’m so proud of my friends and can’t believe there’s only one more year left before I’m in their shoes.

The college hype is real now.

Well, the good news is that school has really wound down, which means plenty of time for food adventures!. I’m still crazy about eel, so yesterday, my mom and I did a quick search and found:

Let’s eat!

昇鳗鱼家:

昇鳗鱼家is a quaint little gem tucked into a Holiday Inn. It’s only 340m from the line 4 metro Pudian rd station (exit 1). As the name suggests, it specializes in eel. While most Japanese places offer grilled eel, places that specialize offer some specialties. Onto the food!

Food

Aside from the eel dishes, 昇鳗鱼家 offers pretty much all the Japanese classics like sashimi, grilled Salmon head (which I didn’t order this time), and tofu. We sampled a few, but make no mistake, eel was the  star of the show.

Appetizers:

Grilled Ray Fin- This is one of my favorite dishes. It has the texture of jerky, but with an incredible seafood umami. The grilling gives it a delicious crispness. The version at () was pretty impressive in regards to flavor; however, it was a bit tough to chew. On the bright side, there was an extra crispness that I really loved.

Sorry, no pic…

Salt Marinated Squid Innards- I’m always down for trying new (admittedly strange) dishes, so I was excited to try some squid innards. Let me say, it’s quite an acquired taste. The “innards” have the texture of regular squid tentacles but with a slight organy taste. It’s served with a sauce that resembled fermented tofu. Honestly, I loved the taste. Unfortunately, the dish wasn’t fresh. I wouldn’t suggest ordering it

Chinese Yam Mash with Tuna- Rice is a staple in most Asian cuisines, but it’s nice to switch up the starch. Chinese yam is quite special. Unlike potatoes or even cauliflower, it isn’t creamy; it’s light and actually quite slimy. While the texture can be off-putting, this version was very well whipped, which gave it a foamy, merengue- like mouthfeel. The generous cubes of fresh tuna added body to the lightness and a touch of wasabi and nori (seaweed) added extra flavor.

Eel:

Grilled Eel Liver with Sweet Soy- I’m a total sucker for all things offal, so when eel liver is offered, it’s bound to end up on my table. It definitely wasn’t what I expected. The livers had a surprising bouncy texture that resembled very tender chicken heart. They were also surprisingly tasteless on their own. With that said, the sweet soy coating was AMAZING. I suggest ordering this dish for the novelty alone.

Eel Egg Roll- Japanese egg rolls are the best- perfectly soft and pillowy with a hint of umami. What’s better than a perfect egg roll, a stuffed egg roll. Needless to say, I was more than excited to try one stuffed with eel. It didn’t disappoint. The egg itself was perfectly tender and incredibly flavorful. The eel was also fresh and added a buttery richness to the light egg. To top things off, the roll is doused in a slightly sweet soy sauce, which adds another flavor dimension. ORDER THIS DISH

Original Grilled Eel- One of the main reasons I wanted to come to an eel house was to try original grilled eel, without the sweet sauce. This dish was even better than I expected. The eel was fresh and incredibly rich, borderline buttery, with a perfectly crispy skin. The eel itself lacked seasoning, but they provided a yuzu scented soy sauce to complement the eel. AMAZING!!!!!

Traditional Grilled Eel- Given how good the original eel was, we decided to also give the traditional (sauced) eel a try. It blew me away, almost as much as the original. Visually, it wasn’t drowned in sauce. Instead, it was grilled with the sauce, which gave it an amazing caramelized crust.

Note: Most people go straight for the eel over rice. This works for a solitary, pretty quick lunch, but on any other occasion, I wouldn’t recommend it. First, eel over rice means a small portion of eel and a heaping box full of rice, which will severely limit variety. The steam of the rice will also soften the perfectly crispy skin. I suggest ordering the eel on its own and getting a small bowl of rice on the side (if needed).

Service and Atmosphere

I loved the service and atmosphere. The interior is decorated in a simple, traditional Japanese style with tatami booths, small tables, a sushi bar and some rooms right outside the main restaurant. I was initially worried that the bustling of the hotel would interfere with the dining experience, but the restaurant was like entering a secret enclave. With that said, the restuarant is very small and comes off as quite cramped- definitely not suited for larger gatherings (more than 6 people). There’s also no sound barriers so every conversation rings out, which kind of disrupts the peaceful atmosphere. It is, however, the perfect place for a quiet, solitary lunch or nice date.

Service was also pretty good. The staff were extremely courteous and attentive. Our waitress always refilled our water and even brought us new hot towels. However, the food took quite a while to come out. Some of the appetizers actually took longer to arrive (time wise) than the grilled eel. But, patience is a virtue, especially when it comes to Japanese restaurants.

Overall Impression

Overall, I was very impressed and will definitely be going back (no excuses this time since it’s so close). From this experience, I look forward to checking out more eel houses.

Well, that’s it for this food adventure. I’ll be back tomorrow with an amazing recipe. Until then, have a great week!

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