Genpin Fugu in Osaka, Japan – fugu sashimi, fugu hot pot and fugu porridge!

Always in search of the exotic and funky stuffs to eat, how could I not eat fugu (puffer fish) since I’m in Japan now?? πŸ™‚

BELOW: Yes this is how they (fugu fish) looked like!

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Luckily for me the area that I’m staying in Fukushima Osaka has 2 shops within walking distance that prepares this delicacy. What luck! πŸ™‚

I tried asking around when I was in Tokyo and even in Tsukiji market and the response has been negative. Apparently fugu is more popular and readily available in the Kansai area (especially Osaka).

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It is a rather expensive delicacy too, pretty much like the Kobe beef.

Here’s the simple menu for Tiger Puffer Specialty Restaurant – Genpin Fugu; the one we went.

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These are the more commonly prepared methods of fugu; sashimi (of course), in a hot pot where it’s boiled and eaten dipped in ponzu sauce, fried,Β barbecuedΒ or cooked in porridge.

Sets are available, making our choice easier. Oh yes, I managed to make friends with a really cool guy, Matt from Los Angeles and he’s game for fugu!
Staying at hostels is really recommended for the lone traveler! πŸ™‚

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We took the Higen Takumi set – Yen 3,780 (RM160) that consist of 4 different preparations of fugu to share. It was good that we shared. Other than reducing cost, the set was too big for one to handle and fugu is really nothing special in terms of flavour & taste. Other than its notorious reputation and the novelty, fugu tasted pretty much like most white fish.

BELOW: 1st course – “Yubiki” – Boiled Chopped Skin.

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Sorry to burst your bubble, but it’s true!
The starter of boiled skin is thick, transparent, chewy and absolutely tasteless; exactly like those fishes with a lot of collagen. This was served with some salty-sweet sauce and loads of green onions that helped to impart a bit of flavour.

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Next was the Fugu Sashimi. Ah, best way to taste the pure flavour of the puffer fish!

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See my excited face? πŸ™‚

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Hmm.. so how was it?

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Plain! LOL.
Texture wise it reminded me of squid; chewy and for flavour, it was mild and delicate.
Both of us were pretty unimpressed at this point but we had a good laugh over it. At least we ate fugu and lived to tell the tale.

Anyhow there were 2 more courses to go so we waited.

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The induction cooker on our table was prepared for the hot pot next. Both of us had imagined a bubbling stove of hot flavourful stock and we rubbed our hands in anticipation.

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Unfortunately it was not so.
The “stock” (if you can call it that since it was as plain as water) was boiled, the ingredients dumped in and you guessed it, everything was bland. We were served bowls of ponzu sauce, green onions and a glob of spicy-something to eat with it. Sorry, I couldn’t ask. The wait staff could hardly speak a word of English.

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BELOW: The fugu goes in first.

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Here you see the cooked flesh of fugu. Looks like just any white meat fish right?
It tasted exactly so; with the exception of a chewier underskin and softer flesh. But it was nice enough to eat on its own without the ponzu sauce or the green onions.

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The skin. Chewy.

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The rest of the ingredients goes in after that.

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Trust me, it didn’t help to flavour the soup the slightest bit and we were eating boiled vegetables; other than the help of dipping them in ponzu of course.

Once we cleared the pot of ingredients, the waitress came in again. This time to prepare our stock for the fugu porridge.

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The very same “stock” was used. She reduced the amount of stock by scooping it out to a bowl and added boiled rice.

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At this point I was rather worried. The same stock? Oh no, the porridge was going to be as plain as the hot pot!

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Thankfully she did add some ponzu sauce and garlic powder. That helped!

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Once the egg went in the fugu porridge (if you notice there wasn’t any fugu fish added) started to look a bit promising.

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A flurry of green onions went on top and she served us a bowl each.

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A packet of seaweed and side condiments did loads to flavour the soup. I added and mixed Β everything into my porridge and it turned out decently tasty after that! πŸ™‚

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Last but not least, each one of us were served a scoop of complimentary peanut ice cream. A sweet ending!

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The bill, split by 2 pax. Yen 2000 = RM80. Not bad for an experience of eating the most poisonous fish in the world right? πŸ™‚

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Don’t get me wrong. Fugu is a delicacy and its probably meant to be served and eaten that way. I’m just describing the taste as it is for those of you who wants to know how fugu taste like. Other than the surprisingly bland hotpot, fugu is something everyone should try!

That’s if you’re not scared of death. LOL. A few people I asked in my hostel wasn’t daring enough to sample it with me!
So would YOU eat fugu? πŸ™‚