Ah, the joys of a Japanese summer.

Back in 2019, U.S. egg specialty restaurant chain Eggslut opened its first store in Japan. Located in Shinjuku, our reporter Mr Sato was one of the first in line on opening day to get a taste of an Eggslut sandwich, and since then he’s always been meaning to return for another bite, but for one reason or another he just never got around to it.

That all changed this week, when Mr Sato heard the chain had added a Japan-exclusive “Unatama Egg Sandwich” to the menu. He happened to be in Shibuya on another assignment at the time, but luckily for him there was a new branch in the area, located at Shibuya Miyashita Park, so he dropped everything he was doing and made a beeline for the store.

“Why hello, Eggslut! Long time no see!”

The new sandwich is only on the Eggslut menu from 20 July to 31 August, and the reason why it’s a summer-only thing is because of the star ingredient — unagi, or in English, “eel”.

In Japan, eel is eaten in summer to help combat fatigue, particularly on the Midsummer Day Of the Ox, which fell on 23 July and 4 August this year, and at Eggslut they’re suggesting we try eating eel with egg, in the form of an Unatama Egg Sandwich.

▼ The name of the sandwich combines “una” from “unagi” with “tama” from “tamago“, the Japanese word for “egg”.

There are three types of Unatama Egg Sandwich on the menu — the Regular (1,188 yen [US$8.66]), Premium (2,178 yen), and Extra Special (3,058 yen). As the signboard above shows, the price goes up with the amount of eel in each burger, and the pricey Extra Special contains a whole eel so huge it juts out on either side of the sandwich!

▼ So, yes, that’s the one Mr Sato ordered.

Mr Sato is a big fan of eel, but he usually eats it the traditional way, on a bed of rice. This would be his first time eating a whole eel with burger buns, and his first time eating it with fried egg and scrambled egg too.

▼ A lot of food for one Mr Sato.

You won’t find the Unatama Egg Sandwich at any Eggslut branch outside Japan, and the condiments it’s served with are equally unique — you can add seaweed, mitsuba, and gourd narazuke (sake lees-marinated pickles) for extra flavour.

The burger is being produced in collaboration with shichimi chili pepper specialty store Yawataya Isogoro, so it also comes with shichimi, sansho shichimi, and yuzu shichimi on the side.

Mr Sato also received a burger bag with his order, which is usually used to slide your burger into for ease of eating, but there was no way he’d be able to fit this giant into the bag in its current state.

He’s no heathen, so Mr Sato used a fork to trim one side of the protruding unagi, taking a taste to judge whether Eggslut knew what they were doing when it came to freshwater eel. Surprisingly, it turned out to be so good that Mr Sato wondered if there might be an eel chef secretly working in the kitchen for the summer.

▼ Salty, sweet, moist and perfectly cooked.

After tasting the eel, Mr Sato felt like eating some rice, but with no rice on hand, the burger buns became the substitute. Taking a big bite, he discovered that…

▼ …Eel goes surprisingly well with bread!

That was something he never thought he’d say, but the soft, buttery bread helped to balance out the strong taste of the eel, creating a harmonious blend of flavours. The scrambled eggs and soft-boiled fried eggs added a creamy texture to the mix, while the Gouda cheese added a delightful umami component that was both flavourful and addictive.

On their own, each ingredient had plenty of flavour, but the brioche-style bread helped to bring everything together in a way that ordinary burger buns wouldn’t. It was a cleverly crafted sandwich, and one that Mr Sato highly recommends trying before it swims off into the depths of the fast food world at the end of the month. Now he’s got his fingers crossed that it returns next summer!

Restaurant information
Eggslut (Shibuya Miyashita Park store) / エッグスラット(渋谷 MIYASHITA PARK店)
Address: Tokyo-to Shibuya-ku, Jingumae 6-20-10 Rayard Miyashita Park South 2nd floor
東京都渋谷区神宮前 6-20-10 Rayard Miyashita Park South 2F
Open 11 a.m.-9 p.m.

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