Guangzhou Restaurant Review: Kabayaki Grilled Eel On Rice

By Jesse Pottinger, August 2, 2019

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The Place

Japanese dining in Guangzhou ranges from pricy and pretentious to budget all-you-can-eat feasts that leave you filled with shame and regret. Kabayaki Grilled Eel on Rice (long name, we know) falls somewhere in the middle, setting itself apart with a focus on one particular dish – eel, obviously.

Image by Jesse Pottinger for That’s

The Food

With plenty of options to choose from, we opted for the unagi kabayaki and beef set meal (RMB58), with a baked jumbo prawn (RMB28) and spicy clam (RMB18) on the side. Had the restaurant been called Kabayaki Spicy Clam, we’re confident they’d be out of business already – they were tolerable, but dreadfully over-sauced with a mediocre sweet-and-spicy flavor.

Image by Jesse Pottinger for That’s

Fortunately, Kabayaki knows what they’re good at. The eel was, simply put, fantastic – eelicious, if you will. Perfectly grilled and lightly glazed with teriyaki, the restaurant’s namesake fully lived up to expectation. The lunch box also came with minced beef sauce (think Bolognese), broccoli and a scrambled egg, all over rice, making for a great little set. The jumbo shrimp, baked in a savory cheese sauce, was also a tasty snack, though the portion of meat was quite small for something with jumbo in the name.

Image by Jesse Pottinger for That’s

Each set came with miso soup and a trio of seaweed, ginger and pickled vegetables. Your server will also bring you a jar of sweet pickled veggies from which you can eat as much as you like.

The Vibe

Image by Jesse Pottinger for That’s

The place was fairly empty when we arrived around 7pm on a Tuesday, but within 20 minutes the upper level was almost full. Rather than artwork, the walls are mainly adorned with photos from Kabayaki’s menu. The staff are friendly and attentive, and the food comes quick, so while this might not be a top pick for a long evening of food and drinks, the quiet, casual atmosphere makes Kabayaki ideal for a quick lunch or dinner.

Price: RMB50-100 with a drink
Who’s going: the young crowd, eel purists
Good for: epic grilled eel, legit lunch sets
Nearest metro: Taojin (Exit A), 10 minutes’ walk

Open daily, 11am-4.30pm, 5.30-9.30pm; see listing for Kabayaki Grilled Eel on Rice.

[Cover image by Jesse Pottinger for That’s]

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