Torafugu Tei, Akasaka, Tokyo

This was our second time eating at Torafugu Tei, except at a different branch. It almost felt like déjà-vu, because everything looked and felt exactly the same as the last time. With 45 restaurants across Japan, these guys are dead-serious about their fugu, and if you happen to like fugu (blowfish), you’ve come to the right place – you’ll find lots of it here, at a wallet-friendly price too.

We opted for the Tora-Fugu course (¥4,980) which comprises six items: Kawa-sashi (parboiled skin sashimi), Tessa (sashimi), Tecchiri (fugu and vegetable hot pot), Deep-fried fugu, Rice Porridge and Dessert. Servings are generous and can be shared between 2 persons if your appetites are on the conservative side. There is also a 5-course (¥3,780) and 7-course (¥6,880) option available, and the latter includes Shirako (politely translated as albino of fugu or “white children”). Shirako is blowfish sperm which is considered a delicacy in Japan. We also ordered Hire-Sake, fugu fin infused sake, torched at the table and steeped to develop an intense bouquet of smoked fugu fin – kanpai!

Fugu on its own is not particularly tasty (and rather bland in our opinion), and we suspect that the toxin alleged to leave a tingling sensation on your palate, and for which fugu is truly celebrated for, is removed completely here (for safety reasons, of course). So rather than focusing on flavour alone, the procession of courses in which they are presented is a visual and textural representation of the unique methods of preparation used.

The meal begins with Kawa-sashi, a gelatinous serving of fugu skin dressed with ponzu sauce and radish, and has a refreshing rubbery bite to it.

It then continues with Tessa – delicate, translucent paper-thin slices of sashimi.

Deep-fried fugu is next and for me, the tastiest of all (but of course). Deep-fried to golden perfection, crispy on the outside and gorgeous tender white meat on the inside (almost mistaken for chicken because of its lovely juicy tenderness and bite).

The portion of fugu, served with vegetables for our next course, was still twitching when the dish arrived – slightly disturbing but certainly indicative of the freshness of produce. We hastily put out their misery (and ours) by dunking them into our hot pot, along with enoki mushrooms, leeks, cabbage and tofu, steamboat style.

To complete our fugu procession, our server made us a delectable zosui with our remaining soup stock and Japanese rice, with a side serve of seaweed and pickles. A small scoop of vanilla ice cream (not fugu flavoured, unfortunately) brought our meal to a close – when we realised we have overeaten…again.

Feeling warm and satiated from the delicious meal and sake, we took a couple of photos outside with the gigantic blowfish structure overhead (and live ones in the tank) to complete our experience at Torafugu Tei.

Torafugu Tei

3-6-17, Akasaka, Minato-ku, Tokyo 107-0052 | 03-3560-6629

Access: 5 min. walk from Akasaka Subway Station or 5 min. walk Tameike-Sanno Subway Station

Hours:

Mon-Sat: 17:00 – 04:00

Sun / Public Holidays: 16:00 – 23:00

P.S.: Just some GK while on the topic of this poisonous fish

(source: http://medical-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/Fugu+Poisoning)

Fugu and related species may contain a tetrodotoxin, an extremely potent neurotoxin and one of the most toxic substances known, which produces critical illness and often death. The most common symptoms of fugu poisoning are tingling and burning of the mouth and tongue, numbness, drowsiness, and incoherent speech. These symptoms usually occur 30 minutes to two hours after ingestion of the fish, depending on the amount of toxin ingested. In severe cases, ataxia (the inability to coordinate the movements of muscles), muscle weakness, hypotension (low blood pressure) and cardiac arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat) may develop, followed by muscle twitching and respiratory paralysis, and death can occur. In several cases, people died within 17 minutes after eating pufferfish. We are posting this 24 hours after our meal at Torafugu Tei, so we guess we’re okay!

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