Greetings from Japan! When it comes to cuisine from the Far East, some notable mentions like sashimi, sushi, ramen and tempura will always come to mind. These dishes are almost readily available in any country which carries a slice of the Japanese food culture. However, it is not everyday when you get the luxury to tuck into dishes like the pufferfish, one of the most poisonous vertebrates in the world. It is an experience that when the fish is not prepared properly, can be fatal to the diner. Nonetheless, I was game to try some of that famed fugu since I would be in Japan for almost a month. And when the opportunity arose for a visit to a Fugu restaurant at Asakusa, was I ever ready.
Fugu preparation is strictly controlled by law in Japan. Chefs have to receive a special license from the government if they were to prepare it and serve it to guests. Hence, when it comes to eating pufferfish, be sure to ascertain that the establishment you are visiting is licensed to serve the dish.
For my Fugu experience, I went to Genpin Fugu [fusion_builder_container hundred_percent=”yes” overflow=”visible”][fusion_builder_row][fusion_builder_column type=”1_1″ background_position=”left top” background_color=”” border_size=”” border_color=”” border_style=”solid” spacing=”yes” background_image=”” background_repeat=”no-repeat” padding=”” margin_top=”0px” margin_bottom=”0px” class=”” id=”” animation_type=”” animation_speed=”0.3″ animation_direction=”left” hide_on_mobile=”no” center_content=”no” min_height=”none”][玄品ふぐ 浅草の関] located in Asakusa, Tokyo and was hosted by a Japanese family friend, Wakana-san. One interesting way to start the adventure is to order the Sake with Baked Puffer Fish Fin [830yen]. A cup of hot sake is served up with slices of baked puffer fish fin. Before serve, the staff will torch the fin and let it char slightly before leaving it to soak in the Japanese wine. While hot sake is potent enough to push the alcohol through, the choice of adding fugu fins and flamed at that certainly lends a tinge of smoky sea sweetness and general savouriness to the overall aromatics. Slowly enjoy the sake throughout the entire meal. The restaurant recommends that the fins are to be left at the side and not consumed. I took a nibble out of curiosity and agreed that they were best left alone.
In addition to a range of a la carte pufferfish dishes, Genpin Fugu boasts a selection of sets with an assortment of dishes. The ‘Gen’ set starts from 3980 Yen for a 5 course meal while the highest range ‘Genyagen’ set is priced at 9200 Yen for a selection of 10 dishes. I went for the ‘Tenraku’ set priced at 6100 Yen for 7 courses. One whole pufferfish generally serves two people.
Start off with the Yubiki. The parboiled pufferfish skin sashimi surprised me from the very beginning. Crunchy and gelatinous, it reminded me of an exceptionally well textured cartilage. The flavours were light and refreshing as the ingredients was set in a mix of soy that lightly brought out the flavour. Highly recommended.
Guests then have an option to choose between the Tessa [Thinly sliced puffer fish sashimi] or the Butsusashi [Thickly sliced puffer fish sashimi]. We went for the thinly sliced sashimi and it was sheer pleasure to just look through each piece onto the white plate beneath. Imagine if these were served on a nicely decorated porcelain plate, I would presume the price for the dish would also go up just to pay for that touch in aesthetic beauty. The thinly sliced puffer fish sashimi was fresh to say the least and a little milky and sweet. The thought of indulging in such a poisonous fish is like taking a gamble with death, and perhaps added all the more to the overall experience of slowly savouring each, precious slice.
Pufferfish is then served deep fried in the dish of Torafugu Karaage. The meatier portion is now presented and this provided a thorough experience in the fish’s full meaty flavour scented with the touches of fried batter on the outside. Break the meat apart and revel in the steam quickly escaping from within. This is a clear favourite and would go very well with more sips of pufferfish fin sake.
As an additional order, we had the Pufferfish Sushi [780yen for 2 pieces]. The fish is sliced a tad thicker, providing a more delectable crunch. At this point, I have come to realised that most of the edible parts of the pufferfish when enjoyed raw is generally a little more textured and crispier from the more common sashimi.
Next on the course is the Yakifugu. Marinated pufferfish in a sweet and slightly salty soy sauce is presented ready for the grill.
Plop each piece onto the grill and watch the flames gently lick each piece to perfect doneness. The marinated skins are to be cooked sparingly [at most 10 seconds] for the maximum pleasure in flavour and texture.
Grilled pufferfish collar and meat. Very, very delicious.
Up next was the Tecchiri, the pufferfish hotpot.
More pieces of the pufferfish with an assortment of vegetables and tofu to sweeten the broth.
Dip the pufferfish prepared in the hot pot with some soy and ponzu sauce.
As a staple before the meal comes to an end, the restaurant will serve up a portion of Zousui prepared using the broth from the pufferfish hotpot. Imagine the sweet flavours that will immerse into each grain of rice.
Let the dish cook for a while.
And it is ready to serve. By this moment, I was really full from the entire spread of pufferfish. Still, it was comforting to engage in such a simple and humble dish of rice porridge. It was a nice balance of flavour from the pufferfish hot pot broth, addition of egg and seaweed toppings. Slowly sip your way to the last portion – dessert.
Dessert of the day
Image credits to Genpin Fugu
Wakana-san and me
My first Fugu lunch was certainly a very lavish one that saw an elaborate meal from start to end. It was truly a unique adventure to see pufferfish prepared in the different ways, each method highlighting a different aspect of the fish. The lunch was a wonderful experience and I would certainly recommend this restaurant for diners looking for a place to try fugu in Tokyo. With its close proximity to Sensoji Temple, the bustling atmosphere adds all the more to its overall charm.
|Genpin Fugu [玄品ふぐ 浅草の関]|
|〒111-0032 東京都台東区浅草1-19-6 1F-2F
Reservation : 03-3843-1529
Website : http://www.tettiri.com/
|Opens From :
11.30am to 11pm