- Price: For under $60 you can experience what all the fuss is about Puffer Fish and get a bit of the cultural Japanese experience (usually starting price is around $100)
- The REAL “Chicken of the Sea”: Puffer Fish tastes like a combination of really tender, juicy chicken thigh with a mixture of soft, delicate white fish
- No Worries of Poison: Puffer Fish sold here are all farmed meaning they have no poison. So if you want to be on the safe side without risking the taste, this is a good place
Fugu or puffer fish is the (in)famous Japanese dish that you might have heard about in Japanese cuisine. The main thrill of the dish is the fish itself has an extremely deadly poison, so much so that a licensed chef needs to go through rigorous training and get an actual license to handle the fish. If you are into Japanese cuisine then it’s probably a must try item.
However the thing about Fugu is that its pretty expensive. If you want to get the full experience it’ll cost you at least $100 or more per person. If you are on a budget but just want to get an introduction to what the fuss is all about fugu, then I recommend going to places like Torafugu Tei which I recently went to.
The fugu itself is farmed which might make you not want to go. I felt the same way upon hearing this. But after eating here with my family I highly recommend this place. We got a full 6 course meal, with all the interesting Japanese cultural servings we foreigners love, DELICIOUS fugu, and all of this for around $55 per person! There’s definitely better places to eat fugu, but if you can get a bit of a budget friendly intro before handing over your full wallet.
Tora Fugu Tei Akabaneとらふぐ亭 赤羽店
〒115-0044 Tokyo, Kita, Akabaneminami, 1 Chome−7−2
Right next to the Akabane Station. It’s a franchise so there are other stores. Just happen to go to this one
泳ぎとらふぐコース (oyogi torafugu course)
7 Course Meal (with dessert!) for 5500 Yen (less than $55 US dollars with current rate. Usually costs $100 or more)
Fugu Skin Sashimi:
A lot of the fugu dishes are served with Ponzu sauce which is this citriusy soy sauce. Served with green onion and this finely grated red radish. The skin is tender like cartilage but softer
Add some special lime and wrap it with some green onions and some bean sprouts. Really light, tender, and delicious!
Fried Fugu much like chicken karaage. Here’s the thing about karaage, if you’ve never tasted real karaage the crust of the karaage is my favorite. Its crunchy and light. Particularly with chicken its great. But Fugu karaage, is amazing as well. This is where I started to feel like Fugu was the “chicken of the sea”. It felt like I was eating delicious chicken karaage. The first bite is like chicken thigh meat but then immediately afterwards it starts to melt in your mouth like tilapia. There’s this interesting mixture of light oily taste as well. Soooo goooooood
Fugu Nabe (Fugu Hotpot)
This was the kicker. This made me appreciate this place as well as rediscover why there is so much love for fugu as a dish. First off if you’ve never seen it before let me introduce you to the paper nabe:
This basket is placed on top of a hot plate and the a special paper is placed inside. A metal plate is then placed at the bottom to hold the paper in place. Add water and as you eat your appetizer it is heated up with a little bit of seaweed to get the broth. Whats really cool is that this paper is the only thing that is keeping the water inside. The entire time we were eating this hot pot it never leaked, never had any paper taste. Really cool Japanese paper tech 🙂
The fugu is then cut into a bunch of pieces and comes out fresh. So fresh that it’s still moving. The freshness of this later comes into play when you eat it. The pieces here I believe are the main parts of the fugu as well as some of the skin
Once the water is boiled add some of the fugu and then some vegetables like shitake mushrooms, Chinese cabbage, and tofu. Add some ponzu sauce and you can eat! So goooooood
Let me try to describe the texture and taste because it was delicious and unique. For one, it was just alive a couple of minutes ago and we were boiling it and eating it so when you bite into it, it almost “bites back”. Its bouncy and even though its fully cooked it feels like I’m eating an actual live muscle. In terms of taste, at first bite, you immediately get this tender oily taste like really tender chicken thigh, but then you get this soft buttery fish taste. Top it off with the citrius sour taste of the ponzu and its magic. And this soft to tender to citrus taste cycle just continues in your mouth as you eat it. I didn’t want this dance in my mouth to ever end O___0!! Definitely understood why Fugu is so unique and popular to some.
Later on they add some rice and egg and you can finish off the soup as porridge!
I forgot what this was called but its like a cookie and in the middle was ice cream.
And there you have it! Some good decent tasting fugu for probably half the price. I looked on Tabelog which for Americans is like yelp here and there seems to be other franchises that serve fugu at around the same price. Again the fugu here is probably not the best tasting fugu, but its pretty good. I definitely appreciated fugu more and made me want more 🙂