Fugu, also known as pufferfish, is a famous delicacy from Japan. It is renowned for its unique flavor and the danger associated with its consumption. This fish contains tetrodotoxin, a potent neurotoxin, primarily in its liver, ovaries, and intestines. Tetrodotoxin is 1,200 times deadlier than cyanide, and a single fish has enough poison to kill 30 people. Due to the inherent risk, the preparation of fugu is strictly controlled in Japan, and chefs must undergo rigorous training and certification to serve it. Fugu is typically served as sashimi or in a hotpot, and its appeal lies in its delicate texture and the thrill of eating something potentially dangerous.
Despite the risks, when prepared by a skilled chef, fugu is safe to eat and is considered a culinary delicacy. It’s worth mentioning that most of Japan’s fugu is fished from the waters around Aichi, and February marks the best month for eating fugu, coming at the end of the season when hauls are most bountiful. Below are a few places you can check out that will serve fresh, poison-free blowfish.
Himakajima Island Options
Himakajima Island, located at the entrance of Mikawa Bay in Japan, is renowned for its rich seafood, particularly octopus and fugu (pufferfish). This small island is a popular destination for seafood enthusiasts and offers a variety of local specialties. Visitors can enjoy fresh seafood dishes at various ryokans and restaurants on the island. Himakajima also features onsen baths and is an ideal spot for day trips, offering a blend of culinary experiences and relaxing in natural hot springs. The island’s culinary offerings and serene environment make it a unique and attractive spot for both food lovers and those seeking a peaceful getaway.
Otohime Keizo restaurant is a well-known destination for seafood enthusiasts. The restaurant is famous for its exceptional seafood dishes and has gained popularity as a location featured in a gourmet drama. Located by the eastern port of Himakajima Island, the restaurant is highly recommended to those visiting the island, especially for its seafood offerings. Besides a variety of fugu courses, the restaurant also offers a wide range of sushi dishes.
The restaurant’s signature dishes include “Octopus Shabu-shabu,” a Japanese hot pot dish, and “tako-meshi,” steamed rice with octopus. Tako-meshi is a delightful combination of sticky rice and soft, springy octopus, offering a simple yet profound taste of the seafood. These dishes are prepared using freshly caught octopus from Himakajima Island, ensuring a taste of the local sea produce. The restaurant is famous for its unique preparation of Octopus Shabu-shabu, which enhances the flavor and texture of the dish by freezing the octopus before cooking. This method results in a crunchy yet chewy texture, giving a fresh taste to the dish.
Where: Chita District, Minamichita, Himakajima, Nishihama – 1-2 (map)
Nagoya City Options
Fugu Restaurant Mifune
Fugu Restaurant Mifune is a highly regarded restaurant specializing in fugu cuisine. Renowned for its dedication to quality, the restaurant prides itself on its pufferfish dishes and growing its own organic vegetables on a family-owned plot of land. The focus on fresh, quality ingredients is a defining characteristic of their culinary offerings. The menu primarily features fugu, with a variety of fugu dishes available for diners to experience this specialty in different forms. The ambiance and layout of the restaurant cater to various dining situations, from casual meals to formal gatherings, and private rooms are available for a more intimate or exclusive dining experience. By blending traditional Japanese culinary art with a focus on fresh, high-quality ingredients, the restaurant has become a noteworthy destination for those seeking an authentic fugu cuisine experience in Nagoya.
Where: 142-2 Fujigaoka, Meito Ward (map)
Fugu Cuisine Tokufuku
If you’re interested in trying fugu at an affordable price, Tokufuku might be the right place for you. Located a couple of blocks from the TV Tower, Fugu Cuisine Tokufuku offers a serene dining experience with traditional seating arrangements. They serve various fugu dishes prepared with fresh and high-quality ingredients to ensure safety and flavor. Fugu Cuisine Tokufuku’s menu includes several fugu courses, such as sashimi, hotpot, and deep-fried dishes. The prices for their courses are reasonable, allowing guests to enjoy a variety of fugu dishes without spending too much money. One of their popular dishes is thinly sliced fugu sashimi, which is a traditional way to savor this unique fish.
Where: Naka Ward, Nishiki, 3 Chome-2-31 Premier Nishiki 2F (map)
Guenpin Fugu is a high-end pufferfish restaurant located in the heart of Nagoya, Japan. They offer a traditional Japanese dining experience and specialize in a variety of fugu dishes, including sashimi, hot-pot, BBQ, and deep-fried preparations. The restaurant is known for its patented preparation techniques, which ensure both exquisite taste and safety.
Their menu is designed to showcase the natural flavors of fresh ingredients and includes a range of courses throughout the year. With nearly 40 years of experience in the business, Guenpin Fugu is one of the top places in Japan for the quantity of this delicacy sold, serving almost one million people annually.
What really sets them apart is that they only serve the highest grade of fugu available. This makes them a must-visit restaurant for anyone seeking an authentic and truly unforgettable culinary experience.
Where: Nagoya, Naka Ward, Nishiki, 2 Chome-12-8 Miyuki Hommachi Building (map)
Photo:The original uploader was Suguri F at Japanese Wikipedia., CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons