Warning: If you’re a vegetarian or squeamish about food, you’ll probably want to skip this post.
It’s never a good idea to make bets in a drunken stupor – financially or otherwise – but that is what I did with my friend who’s currently visiting some 15 years ago right after college. In an inebriated state, I was sure he was going to marry a certain woman and made a dinner bet on it. Since he is currently visiting here with his new wife that isn’t the woman I had indicated in the bet, I decided to settle up on the bet.
As mentioned earlier, one of his goals in Japan was to try a wide variety of strange foods while here, so I figured that the dinner theme would be just that…and we succeeded.
One food that he wanted to try was fugu. Fugu is a blowfish that is quite poisonous and if not prepared correctly can kill you. In fact a couple of people die from eating this fish each year in Japan due to it not being prepared properly. That was definitely one of the foods that had to be part of the menu. When we arrived at the restaurant, there were several large pools of water holding many of the items we would be eating that night:
Fugu swimming in tank
Squid swimming in tank
When we sat down, we found an entire menu of food that you don’t see on an everyday menu and we dug right in. We first ordered fugu in four different varieties: fugu sashimi (raw), fugu skin, fried fugu and fresh fugu to be placed in a boiling pot.
Fresh fugu to be boiled
The fresh fugu was most certainly fresh as it was still twitching on the platter when it arrived at our table. While all the fugu was good, the consensus was that the fried fugu was the best tasting and we actually ordered a second plate of it. Best of all, nobody died and we were on to our next food which was squid.
fresh squid sashimi
The squid, like the fugu before, arrived on out plate still moving and with the chromataphores changing colors the entire time we were eating it. You don’t get squid much fresher than that. Once we had eaten the sashimi, they took away the plate and turned the rest of the squid into tempura. The consensus was both the sashimi and tempura were extremely tasty.
Next on the list was “kani miso” which is the innards of the crab on top of “mountain potatos” (a kind of slimy vegetable that appears to be a potato, but the texture leads me to believe it isn’t from that family.).
Crab innards and mountain potatos
While my friend enjoyed this, it’s not my favorite. The mountain potatos give off this slime that has the texture of spit and the crab innards are just that – a bunch of crab innards.
Next on the list was sea urchin which was again extremely fresh and beautifully displayed. the consensus was that is was quite tasty too.
From here we moved onto a couple of quite bizarre foods both of which I passed on, but which my friend and my wife both tried. The first was “uma sashimi” of raw horse meat.
raw horse meat – “uma sashimi”
My friend was able to eat the raw horse meat without a problem, but my wife didn’t like it at all. Although she managed to get it down, it was done with a look of horror on her face the entire time. I was just glad that I chose not to participate in it.
The last of the foods was a sea snail (I believe) that was finely chopped up in it shell with the bowels removed on the side. The bowels are supposed to be a delicacy…
Chopped sea snail
Sea snail bowels
While both liked the chopped sea snail (I had a tiny piece – it was quite tough and chewy and definitely had a strong taste to it), neither was real pleased with the sea snail bowels. In fact, my friend call it “the worst food I have ever tried in my life.” I’m not sure exactly what they were expecting snail bowels to taste like, but I sure knew it wasn’t going to be good and was happy I also passed on them.
The total bill came to about $160 for the meal
but we weren’t done. We were off to course 2 at the “yakiniku” beef restaurant. We started out with a basic plate of regular cuts as well as some cow intestines.
Beef plate with cow intestines
I passed on the grilled cow intestines, but both my friend and wife found them to taste good. At the same time, we ordered a small bottle of fermented rice wine for each of us (we’d been drinking Sho-chu – a type of rice wine that is a bit stronger than regular osake – at the previous restaurant):
Fermented rice wine
While my friend said that the taste of the fermented rice wine grew on him, I attribute that to him starting to get drunk. It had a sweet, almost yogurt like taste to it, but not something that I particularly liked. As we continued to drink this and discuss whether or not is was good, we noticed that the restaurant also offered raw cow intestine sashimi.
Raw cow intestine sashimi
Raw cow intestine sashimi dipped in sauce
I passed on this again, but both my wife and friend said that it was quite good. I smiled and let them say whatever they wanted, but passed each time they offered it to me. The bill came to $75
$75 beef restaurant bill
making the total cost for the night $235. While it was an expensive bet to lose, it was an extremely memorable evening that I won’t soon forget. Still, I learned my lesson…no more bets when I’ve been drinking.