Well, not really. In actual fact, Noriko took me to a wonderful, varied and seasonal dinner at a restaurant with no external signage in the Gion district of Kyoto. The kind of restaurant, and meal, that tourists can generally only dream of having in Japan.
I was half way through a tasty dish of some kind of baked fish with a subtle barbecue sauce when Noriko said, “Don’t worry, they are licensed here.”
I must have looked blank, because she continued, “This is Fugu!”
I must have still looked blank, because she said, “You know, Blowfish. It’s also called ‘Pufferfish.’ The poison fish.”
Licensed to what? Licensed to kill?
“There’s no danger,” Noriko continued. “The poison is near the intestines. The only people who die are those who eat the intestines anyway, because they are greedy people and the intestines taste so good. The government licenses people who serve this fish.”
At which point she translated our conversation for the immaculately clad-in-white, smiling and bowing chefs behind the counter, who thought it was hilarious. I pantomimed doubling up and keeling over from the poison, which they thought was even funnier, then allowed as I trusted them.
I told Noriko I wished I’d known about the fish before I’d eaten it so I could have photographed the dish with my iPhone. She said, “In that case, I’ll order it prepared a different way. But after you photograph it, you must eat it, you know.”
You can see in the iPhone shot above that the slices in the second dish of Fugu are so thin they are translucent.
Thank you, Noriko!