14 2015 Jun

Feasting on Fugu

Japan, KyotoTagged food, fugu, japanese food

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.

Gempin Fugu Gion Noseki

Yamashita, 4-johigashi
Kyoto-shi, Kyoto ru 528-4
Gionmachiminamigawa, 605-0074

Verdict: Although there are other higher priced places, Gempin Fugu is guaranteed good eating.

Yubiki @Gempin Fugu

Boiled pufferfish skin tossed with tangy dressing made for a good opener. The skin was cut into strands and held its firmness. It's a cold dish and was a good opener.

Ox Impressions: 

It's Fresh Alright

It might be a bit too much to watch, but this was how fresh the fish was.

Tessa @Gempin Fugu

Thinly sliced sashimi was the next course. Actually, one of two of the second course. This of course, was the best way to try out pufferfish for the first time. Unaltered and uncooked for you to appreciate. It's firmness is unlike any other fish and the taste is very delicate, as in not on the fishy side. Some may think it has no taste. If that's the case, there's soy and wasabi at the ready. For me, just a little dip to bring out the flavors.

Ox Impressions: 

Butsusashi @Gempin Fugu

The other half of our second course were thicker cuts sashimi placed on lettuce and topped with the same stuff in the first course. Surprisingly, I prefer the thinner cuts. This just felt a little too chewy and the sauce along with the green onions were too overpowering. It's different I'll give it that.

Ox Impressions: 

Torafugu Karaage @Gempin Fugu

Next up were some deep fried filets. Oh the firmness is still apparent after the cooking, almost chicken like, but still flaking off like fish. I'd love to have this as an izakaya dish.

Ox Impressions: 

Yakifugu @Gempin Fugu

As we dive deeper into our meal, our next stop was some grilling of pufferfish. The lovely charcoals give the fish a nice char. It's lightly seasoned so all you do is cook it to your liking.

Ox Impressions: 

Tecchiri @Gempin Fugu

The final main course was the hot pot. Cooked in a kami nabe, paper pot, the cuts of meat and skin along with some greens made for a light tasting broth. By this point you should know fugu inside and out, raw, deep fried, grilled, and now boiled.

Ox Impressions: 

Zousui @Gempin Fugu

Our final savory course was rice porridge made from the broth of the hot pot. It's made on the spot with egg, green onions, and seasoning. Then topped with some pickled vegetables. It's your filler. Not bad and did it's job, but nothing too unique about it.

Ox Impressions: 

Dessert @Gempin Fugu

Then there was dessert. I want to say crushed almond ice cream. Not sure if I finished it, I'd rather have my dessert at another shop.

Ox Impressions: 

The OxPosted June 14, 2015 By the hungry ox

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