Introducing the types of fugu cuisine, etiquette, and 3 famous restaurants where you can enjoy dinner!

It is said that blowfish is poisonous and should not be eaten, but I would like to try it at least once! Is there anyone who thinks so?

Fugu is attractive for its highly transparent and elastic flesh. In Japan, it has been eaten as sashimi and hot pot as a local dish, mainly in the Kyushu region and Yamaguchi prefecture. However, the internal organs of blowfish contain the neurotoxin tetrodoxin, so in Japan only those who have obtained a blowfish chef’s license can prepare and serve them.

In this article, we will introduce the types of fugu dishes, etiquette for eating them, and recommended famous restaurants for foreigners visiting Japan who want to try exquisite fugu cuisine.

■Fugu dishes that are sure to get you addicted

There are many types of blowfish dishes, including grilled, sashimi, hotpot, fried, and simmered. Therefore, here we will introduce 5 main dishes.


【Cooking 1】 Fugu sashimi (Tessa)

Fugu sashimi, also known as tessa in the Kansai region, is a dish that can only be enjoyed in the winter due to the shortage of wild tiger blowfish. Fugu sashimi is a local dish in Yamaguchi Prefecture, and has a long history, mainly in the Shimonoseki area.

Fugu meat is very elastic, so it is made into thin sashimi. Only with “Fugu Sashi” can you enjoy the beautiful, highly transparent appearance and crunchy texture. This is a recommended dish that you should try at least once. Fugu sashimi is usually eaten with ponzu sauce, which gives it a refreshing taste that is different from soy sauce.


【Cooking 2】 Fugu chiri nabe/Fugu rice porridge

Fugu chiri nabe is a hot pot dish that contains fillets of blowfish along with vegetables and mushrooms such as Chinese cabbage, green onions, carrots, and mushrooms. By the way, chirinabe refers to mizutaki with ingredients added to kelp soup stock.

Like blowfish sashimi, it is basically eaten with ponzu sauce. Japanese hotpot dishes have a shime, which is used to add white rice, udon, ramen, and other noodles. In fugu chiri nabe, it is common to add white rice to make fugu zosui. Because of the flavor of the vegetables in the hot pot and the soup stock from the blowfish fillets, when making zosui, adjust the taste with only salt.


【Cooking 3】Fried blowfish

Fried chicken is also one of the standard blowfish dishes. Although blowfish is a luxury ingredient, white mackerel blowfish is cheap and easily available, so some homes and izakaya restaurants also make fried blowfish. In addition, frozen products and chilled foods are also sold, making it more popular as a home-cooked meal rather than a high-end dish.

The plump meat is coated with seasoned batter and deep-fried until crispy, resulting in a crispy outside and fluffy inside. It’s great that you can enjoy it as you like, whether it’s refreshing with ponzu sauce or with sauce or salt.


【Cooking 4】Shirako cuisine

Shirako is the testicles of blowfish and is a delicacy with a creamy and rich flavor. Shirako is a rare part of the fish that can only be caught in pairs, making it one of the highest quality blowfish dishes.

The period when Shirako is said to be at its most delicious is from January to February. It is best to eat Shirako when it tastes best, and you can generally only find it in restaurants during the winter.

Shirako dishes have a wide repertoire, including grilling, lightly boiling and eating with ponzu sauce, tempura, and steaming.


【Cooking 5】Nikogori

Nikogori is a dish that looks like jelly. It can only be made from fish rich in gelatin, such as blowfish.

A lot of gelatin dissolves in the blowfish broth, so it becomes gel-like when it cools. Add soy sauce, ginger, etc. to the broth, boil it down, pour it into a mold, and cool it to complete the boiled soup. It is an exquisite dish that is appealing because you can enjoy both the plump texture and the texture of the blowfish meat inside.


【Extra Edition】Entertaining “fillet sake”

Fillet sake, which is made by grilling blowfish fillet until golden brown and drinking it in piping hot sake, is also a delicious dish. It is a masterpiece that matches the fragrant aroma and the aroma of Japanese sake.

The main feature of Hirezake is the process of lighting it with a lighter as soon as you open the lid before drinking it, creating a blue-white flame. Some people order it to enjoy the sight of the flames rising, while others enjoy the entertainment.

■Manners on how to eat blowfish sashimi


Among all blowfish dishes, “fugu sashimi” requires careful eating etiquette.

Fugu sashimi is arranged like a flower, and etiquette is to eat it in the opposite order of how it was presented. The pufferfish sashimi is served from the edge of the plate, rotating the plate little by little towards the center. Therefore, start eating from the highest point in the center.

Also, the taste of blowfish meat decreases when it dries, so scoop out two to three pieces at a time and eat.

As the final step, wrap the fugu meat with condiments such as green onions and dip it in ponzu sauce to enjoy the crunch and flavor.

■3 famous blowfish restaurants that you should visit at least once

We will introduce three famous Japanese restaurants where you can enjoy blowfish dishes for dinner. Please choose a place that is close to the sightseeing spots and enjoy it.


“Shunbanro” where you can enjoy different dishes depending on the store

The first famous blowfish restaurant we will introduce is Shunpanro. Shunpanro has one store in Yamaguchi Prefecture, one store in Osaka Prefecture, and two stores in Tokyo.The main store is located in Shimonoseki, Yamaguchi Prefecture. The main store has a larger selection of dishes than other stores, so if you want to enjoy blowfish cuisine, we recommend the main store.

Each store is close to the nearest station, and some can be reached within 10 minutes by taxi or a few minutes on foot.

Shunpanro is characterized by the different dishes that can be enjoyed at each store.

At our main restaurant, you can enjoy the following dishes:

・Fugu full course
・Fugu hotpot course
・Special kaiseki
・Spring/summer blowfish course
・Dinner course with overnight stay

At the Abeno and Tokyo branches, you can enjoy the following dishes.

・Course meal
・Kaiseki cuisine

At the Nihonbashi Takashima branch, you can enjoy a la carte dishes and set dishes.

・Fugu rice porridge
・Fugu sashimi
・Fugu roll sushi
・Fugu sashimi delicacy set
・Shunpanrou set
・Fugu sashimi porridge set

The hot pot and overnight courses are available only at the main store, while the sushi is available only at the Nihonbashi Takashima store. Why not visit the stores and enjoy different cuisines?

“Genpin” where you can eat Shirako in a la carte or course meals.

The second famous restaurant we will introduce is Genpin. There is one store in Hokkaido, 39 stores in the Kanto region (Tokyo, Chiba, Saitama, Kanagawa), and 24 in the Kansai region (Osaka, Hyogo, Mie, Kyoto). There are no stores in the Tohoku, Shikoku, or Kyushu regions.

At Genpin, you can enjoy everything from a la carte dishes to course meals. You can also enjoy Shirako dishes, so this restaurant is recommended for those who want to try Shirako.

At Genpin, you can enjoy the following a la carte dishes:

・Fillet menu: parboiled blowfish, blowfish sashimi, butsusashi
・Fried chicken menu: Fried pufferfish/fugu fried chicken
・Milt menu: Grilled Milt/Nabe Milt
・Assortment of three types (aged blowfish with bone, blowfish meat, grilled blowfish skin)
・Grilled menu: Grilled shabu meat, grilled blowfish skin
・Hot pot/rice porridge

You can choose from three types of courses: Gen course, Daigo course, and Tenraku course. There is also a hot pot course, and you can choose from the “Natural Torafugu Hot Pot Course” or the “Natural Torafugu Grilled Hot Pot Course.”

The appeal of Genpin is that you can enjoy it in any way you like, whether you want to enjoy the puffer fish course or choose your favorite dish and enjoy it with sake.

“Torafugu-tei” where you can enjoy the luxury of Shirako cuisine course

The last famous restaurant we will introduce is Torafugu-tei. We have 29 stores in Tokyo, 4 stores in Kanagawa prefecture, 5 stores in Saitama prefecture, and 2 stores in Chiba prefecture. In particular, the 23 wards have the largest number of stores, so you can enjoy blowfish cuisine for dinner while sightseeing in Shibuya, Shinjuku, and Asakusa.

This is a restaurant where you can enjoy a la carte dishes, course meals, and lunch, and there is also a Shirako menu for a la carte dishes and course meals.

A la carte dishes are divided into seasonal menus and individual menus.

・Go swimming
・Swim well
・Deep-fried tiger blowfish

The individual menu includes the following:
・Skin piercing
・Fugu skin rice crackers
・Charcoal-grilled blowfish
・Famous blowfish rice (2-3 servings)

Shirako is also available on the menu, although it may not be available because it is limited in quantity and seasonal.
・Milt tempura
・Grilled Shirako (salt)
・Grilled Shirako (Sauce)
・Hot pot milt
・Sukuri Shirako

There are two types of courses: “Swimming Tiger Fugu Set” and “Specially Selected Shirako Course with Limited Quantities and Seasons.” All-you-can-drink plans are also available for each course, allowing you to enjoy blowfish dishes along with alcohol.

For lunch, you can enjoy gozen, hotpot course, and charcoal-grilled blowfish set. The menu items available vary by store, so please check in advance.

■Enjoy a wide variety of blowfish dishes

Japan has a variety of Shirako dishes and Fugu dishes, and in some regions it is familiar as a local cuisine. Fugu is basically a luxury food that is considered a “winter taste,” so it can be eaten from September to February.
If you want to try Shirako, we recommend coming to Japan during the season, from January to February.
When you come to Japan, be sure to enjoy the wide variety of blowfish dishes.

Q.Do you have any recommended blowfish dishes?
A. Fugu sashimi, fried blowfish, blowfish chiri nabe, and milt dishes are standard dishes and should be eaten. We also recommend the boiled rice, which has a unique texture.

Q.Are there any blowfish restaurants you recommend?
A.Shunpanro, Genpin, and Torafugu-tei are recommended. You can enjoy a la carte dishes or course meals.