For my birthday last month, I decided to treat the couples out to dinner (that’s me, Mig, my brother and China) to our favorite Izakaya Kikufuji at Little Tokyo in Pasong Tamo. We ordered our usual fare until Vicki our favorite server said that there was Fugu available straight from Japan. Now wasn’t that exciting or what? My brother and I decided to get a plate. Mig was a bit jittery, though I was sure he’d have taste since he wouldn’t want to be left out of the group even if it meant potentially getting poisoned as well.
I watched a documentary in National Geographic about this and it said that many homeless people died during the war after scavenging for fish remains in trash cans outside restaurants. Apparently the stuff they threw were the Fugu’s organs which is highly toxic and can cause suffocation if it is prepared the wrong way. The fuss about this fish has been bugging my mind for years, and i thought that the only way i could get some fugu, was if i went to Japan with a sh*tload of money and ate in a pretty classy restaurant there. AND i had to make sure that the sushi chef in that place had the proper license and documents to prove he has trained to fabricate this fish properly. Sashimi is usually served thin in a shape of a chrysanthemum flower which symbollizes death in the Japanese culture.
Apparently, this fugu was flown in, and the container it came in also had the necessary documents saying that a licensed person did prepare it. The fugu came and was beautifully plated like a flower…ahh the symbol of death in the very front of my face. The fish slices were beautifully translucent, the sauce was ponzu…and not your usual soy sauce with a touch of wasabi (which i found out that mixing wasabi in the soy sauce was very Filipino and probably not Japanese). There were spring onions on the side to eat with the fish. My bro and I were just too eager, but I let him take the first bite (hahah!), I came on a close second, I picked it up…looked at it and slowly put it into my mouth. It tasted so subtle…no strong flavors on this one…and I just wondered how come the Japanese like this so much. I looked around the restaurant wondering if they had a portable oxygen tank just in case. Then a slight numbing sensation began spreading over my lower lips…this was the fugu’s leftover poison working on my mouth. We ate it all the way to the last piece, which was the thicker piece…since nothing dangerous was happening yet, what the heck i took it. For someone my age, you kind of go back on forth on thinking on whether this tiny thing can actually kill you, or if you’re actually immortal, or that the chef must’ve been really good and licensed that it made the trip all the way to the Philippines.
After all our other usual fare, the tab wasn’t so bad. I think the fugu cost about P3,000-P3,500 per order..that’s much less than my plane ticket, accommodations and pocket money that i would have to bring to Japan.