I Must Try Fugu.

16 06 2009

fuguHow many food items do you know of that could lead to immediate death? Is fugu delicious enough to take this risk? Many people in Japan think so. Japanese chefs endure as much training as American doctors to prepare blowfish or Fugu. If it is prepared incorrectly you will probably die. The chefs must memorize the exact layout of the fish and where every drop of poison is, before they are allowed to serve and prepare it. In Tokyo, which has one of the most rigorous programs, training takes from five to seven years, and includes an apprenticeship and an exam. Fugu is the only food in which the emperor was not allowed to eat!

The reason why fugu is so deadly is tetrodotoxin, the poison found inside. Tetrodotoxin numbs the lips and mouth while you eat and if enough is consumed it can cause paralysis, followed by convulsions, which leads to the constriction of breathing and then death. So it is very important you eat fugu from a highly trained fugu chef. Those who eat it report a sensation of novacaine as if they were just injected by a dentist. Tetrodotoxin is allegedly 160,000 more potent than cocaine, and 1250 times deadlier than cyanide.

The taste is described by many as “heavenly,” a mild white meat, like chicken, with a unique crunchy texture. 

 The 18th century Japanese poet Yosa no Buson expressed his love for eating blowfish in this haiku:

I cannot see her tonight. 

I have to give her up 

So I will eat fugu.

Fugu is illegal in Europe and most of America. As far as I know, these are the only places to legally eat fugu in the States:

Nippon — 155 East 52nd Street, New York, N.Y. 

Soba Nippon — 19 West 52nd Street, New York, N.Y. 

Yodo — 13 East 47th Street, New York, N.Y. 

Chikabu — 12 East 44th Street, New York, N.Y. 

Naniwa — 4 East 46th Street, New York, N.Y. 

Azusa — 3 East 44th Street, New York, N.Y. 

Nadaman Hakubai — 66 Park Avenue, New York, N.Y. 

Inagiku — 111 East 49th Street, New York, N.Y. 

Sugiyama Restaurant — 251 West 55th Street, New York, N.Y. 

Taiko — 15 South Village Avenue, Rockville Ctr., N.Y. 

Bond Street — 6 Bond Street, New York, N.Y. 

Hatsuhana Restaurant — 17 East 49th Street, New York, N.Y. 

Kaz Sushi Bistro — 1915 I Street, N.W., Washington, D.C. 

New Otani LA — 120 S. Los Angeles Street, Los Angeles, Calif. 

Morimoto Restaurant — 723 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia, Pa. 

Tako Grill — 7756 Wisconsin Avenue, Bethesda, Md. 

Shiki Restaurant — 4 Westroy Street, Seattle, Wash.