Surviving Fugu – Eating Toxic Blowfish in Japan

Considering how much I talk about food on this here blog, it probably comes as no surprise that my husband and I will try anything at least twice. Eating fugu was on the top of my husbands food bucket list when we set out on our travels and had decided that Japan would be one of the destinations we would visit.

Being the good (girlfriend at the time) that I am, I did some digging to find the best fugu restaurant in Kyoto, and found Fukushin. At first sight, it just looks like a hole in the wall, a door with a small red sign hanging above it and when you walk in the vibe is functional and simple with only bar seating in the front and two booths in the back. What they lacked in bravado visually, they made up for in experience and taste – their art was the food not the restaurant.

Fugu chefs in Japan are highly skilled and trained at their craft. Considering there are a few parts that are highly lethal, you definitely want to find the right chef. In Japan, the younger they are in their license the longer it has been (if ever) that they have had any incidents with serving the wrong fugu. Our chef, Chef Hidehiro Shimazaki, looks about 18 in his photo and has never had to recertify, so we felt we were in good hands.

We opted for the most diverse course, which gave us 10 pieces of fugu cooked any way we want, so naturally we had it every possible way which was boiled, chargrilled, and fried, the latter being our favorite. Oli also got a fugu cocktail, which included saki – so was not my cup of tea per se, but he liked it enough to have two. The cocktail included a deep fried skin of the fugu and was savory plus saki. It was weird, not gross, but more than a sip for me wasn’t something I went for.

Eating fugu in Kyoto is still one of the most memorable dining experiences I have had, and I was absolutely blown away with not only the taste, but the caliber of service and entertainment. Chef cooks everything right in front of you, including a small chargrill right in front of you to char grill your own pieces.

Donning our “Certificate of Eating up Fugu” we went home happy full, and ticking another thing off the bucket list. Wandering home, we walked past a musician that was playing an ethereal tune that made me stop in my tracks, it felt like the perfect nightcap.