Surviving the fugu-fish delicacy – no poison, and very oiy-shee!

My recent trip to Japan wasn’t a very long one, but you’ve already had five posts about it (on transportation, a safari park, Disneyland, TeamLab and work)! And guess what? There are quite a few more still to come! But of course there are. For this is Japan – always different, always curiously fascinating!

Coming up – the following themes: food, city, and… hotel-room views. So where shall I begin? Always begin with a full belly – so here we go with Japanese dining!…

Japanese cuisine is fantastically beautiful – besides being fantastically delicious. Oiy-shee means “tasty” in Japanese, and I found myself repeating the word every single day while in the country…

Your standard fare in a restaurant in Tokyo comes looking somewhat bewildering to a foreign visitor ->

But then you get stuck in, the eyebrows raise uncontrollably, a smile comes to the lips concealing tastebuds in raptures and, after swallowing, out come the words automatically: oiy-shee!

Another thing: authentic Japanese cuisine is sooooo much more than what it’s thought to be in the West. It’s not sushi! For example, there’s tempura (which actually has… Portuguese origins (just don’t tell the Japanese!)), like this ->

Now, given that Japan is an island country, you might think it’s mostly seafood on the menu. But you’d be wrong. Sure – it’s there; but so is meat…

But it’s the way they fry it here. I don’t know how they do it, but fried steak really does taste different – better! – here than it does in the rest of the world! ->

In another restaurant we tried shabu-shabu:

Though I’d been to Japan more than 30 times, I’d never tried the famously poisonous Fugu fish. When our Japanese colleagues found this out, they whisked us swiftly to one of the city’s restaurants that’s licensed to serve it (preparation of the fish is strictly controlled by Japanese law – only a trained chef can prepare it so it’s edible) ->

Fugu sashimi (i.e., raw) ->

And here’s the same fugu – only cooked in something and with something:

Fugu breaded and deep fried – with a side of single malt:

And DIY fugu! ->

Regular readers will know I rarely write about food on these here blog pages. Only a truly significant gastronomical experience (or an extreme one, like on road-trips in deepest Siberia) warrants photos and text. But this truly was one of those truly significant gastronomical experiences…

Now I see what all the fuss is about regarding fugu. Sure – much of that fuss comes from the fact that it’s a deadly fish and it comes with special licensing rules. But the main fuss should be about something else: how oh-my-gourmet-gorgeous it is!

// I wonder how many folks were poisoned to death before they learned how to prepare it properly? And what is the punishment meted out to licensed chefs who miss a bit of the poisonous innards of the fish leading to a diner being poisoned?

The rest of the photos from Japan are here.

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