Dinner was all about fugu, pufferfish, a delicacy with that deadly reputation of killing people. But really? At this day and age the percentage of people getting a lethal dose of poison is getting rare. There’s rigorous training for chefs to be certified and you can bet restaurants do everything possible to make it safe. One episode, even non-lethal, can close a shop and the reputation of the chef. So no, I don’t think we were in danger having this especially when we went with a nationwide chain, Gempin Fugu.
They are located in the major cities of Japan and have two in Kyoto. We went to the one next to the Yasaka Shrine around Gion. It was a small place that spanned three stories. We got a seat without a reservation because of two things. First, we were there a bit early, around 6pm. The place did get crowded a half hour in. Secondly, according to our ryokan hosts, Winter was the best time to have fugu. Oh well, glad they still serve it.
Note, they don’t speak English here.
Luckily I knew some Japanese but really, it was the fact that there was English on the menu. Yep, the good ‘ol point and nod. We ordered the Tenraku Set for ¥6100 a person which included 7 courses, where one was interchangeable, so we had 8. Oh yeah, 8 courses of fugu prepared eight different ways! Plan for at least an hour of eating and preparation between each course. I’d recommend some beers to help with the transitions. Not to say there were long lulls of nothingness. I’d say there was 5-10 minutes between finishing a course till the next one arrives. We could have cut down that time simply by notifying our waiter. All in all great meal. Every part of the fugu was utilized in various styles of Japanese cuisine.
Kyoto-shi, Kyoto ru 528-4
Verdict: Although there are other higher priced places, Gempin Fugu is guaranteed good eating.