“Fugu” (blowfish) is famous even among the Japanese as a high class food item. Because it contains poison in its internal organs, only chefs with a special license are allowed to prepare it. The fugu season is the cold period from about October to March, and the best time is December to February. If you want to try fugu, you should definitely go to a restaurant during that season.
The most popular style of fugu is the sashimi called “fugu-sashi”. It is known for being sliced so thin it is almost transparent. When arranged on a large decorated dish, it looks like a piece of art. Sliced fugu is typically arranged in a circular shape to look like a large flower blooming. However, some chefs are known to try to compete for the best arrangement style, presenting the fugu in the shape of a crane or peony flower. This is adorned with a mix of ponzu (a citrus based sauce) and momiji oroshi (A food item made from grated daikon and chili pepper. “Momoji” means maple tree, and refers to the red color of the condiment because the maple tree turns red in the autumn, and “oroshi” means “grated”).
“Nabe” (Japanese steamboat dish) is also a popular fugu format. Together with vegetables like Chinese cabbage (hakusai, or bok choy in Chinese) and “negi” (Japanese chives) and other ingredients like tofu and mushrooms, fugu chunks are simmered in a soup stock made from items like kombu (kelp). When the soup is mostly finished, add rice and flavoring to make a kind of rice porridge called “fugu zosui”. One of the most treasured parts of the fugu is the roe eggs. And some people even say that the melt-in-your-mouth texture of the milt of male fugu is the best in the entire world. The season from January through early March is said to be especially delicious. It is a little high priced, but if you have the chance, you should definitely try some. Also, “hire-zake”, which consists of fugu fins that are fragrantly grilled and then placed in Japanese rice wine, has a mellow flavor that you cannot experience with other types of rice wine. Some people even feel that the name “fugu” in Japanese is related to the word “fuku”, which means “happiness”. Enjoy a moment of happiness with fugu cuisine.


(Two stars in the Michelin Guide, 2010)

The owner’s intense devotion to quality means that this restaurant only uses torafugu (tiger fugu) from Bungo Suido, a famous fugu harvesting region (a marine area sandwiched between Oita Prefecture in the Kyushu region and Ehime Prefecture in the Shikoku region). Only the best fugu both in terms of flavor and size are selected. Fugu cuisine is on the menu from October through April only. Other seasons feature items like suppon nabe (suppon turtle steamboat dish), chicken nabe (steamboat dish with chicken), and hamo (pike conger) dishes.

Photo: Furuichi Kazuyoshi 2007

Average cost: JPY 27,300 –
Business hours: 5:00 p.m. -11:00 p.m.
Closed: No closed days from Nov. through Mar; Sat., Sun., and national holidays are closed from Apr. through Oct.; Also, the restaurant is closed during a 10 day period from late Apr. through early May and a two-week period starting in mid Aug.
Koda Bldg. 3F, 5-11-3 Ginza Chuo-ku Tokyo
Phone: 03-5148-2922

http://www.fukuji.jp/ (Japanese)


(Two stars in the Michelin Guide, 2010)

This restaurant is only open for the fugu season, from October through March. It is a specialty restaurant that focuses entirely on fugu. Of course, the menu is limited to courses with different types of fugu dishes. It is very close to Tsukiji City, and exudes the atmosphere of a long standing restaurant.

Average cost: JPY 35,000 –
Closed: Completely closed from Apr. through Sept.; Closed on Sun. and national holidays during the open period from Oct. through Mar.

2-15-4 Tsukiji Chuo-ku Tokyo
Phone: 03-3541-7730
http://www8.plala.or.jp/tsukijiyamamoto/YAM99.htm (English)