Fugu Is Back at Kata Robata, While Supplies Last; I Tried It and Lived to Tell the Tale

Photo by Kaitlin Steinberg
Next, Hori prepared the fugu meat by slicing it very thinly and dressing it in a ponzu sauce with momiji oroshi, a mixture of daikon radish with red chili peppers. It was difficult to discern the flavor of the fugu because it's so delicate, but the texture is somewhere between a white fish and tuna. It's dense and hearty like tuna, but less oily and more dependent upon the flavors of the food with which it's served.

Photo by Kaitlin Steinberg

For the third course, Hori created a broth by boiling down fugu bones. When he served this simple soup, he reiterated that none of the edible fugu goes to waste. It tastes a lot like a miso soup, only with a less stringent flavor. It's mildly fishy, but every element is so subtle that the finely slivered green onions are readily perceived in the dish.

Photo by Kaitlin Steinberg

The fourth course gave me the best indication of fugu's flavor profile. Fugu sashimi is often consumed in Japan, and it's responsible for the largest number of cases of poisoning. The sashimi helped me realize that fugu alone really isn't that flavorful. It tastes like an incredibly mild white fish. It's the momiji oroshi consumed with it, for instance, that makes it taste brighter. The fugu by itself is rather bland, which makes me wonder why it's such a delicacy in Japan.

Photo by Kaitlin Steinberg

Next, Hori served my favorite dish of the evening, which he says is not at all traditional. He seasoned chunks of fugu lightly with salt and pepper, pan-seared them, then spread them on a plate with a bit of uni, or sea urchin. Cooking fugu, in my opinion, brings out its flavor -- and paired with the buttery uni it's a wonderful taste of some of the most exotic foods the ocean has to offer.

Photo by Kaitlin Steinberg
Finally, Hori brought out a soup he says he remembers from his childhood: A sizzling stone bowl filled with fugu broth, rice, egg and fugu meat. It's a simple dish, almost gruel-like, but divine in its modesty. It's my idea of Japanese comfort food -- if one were a very wealthy person seeking comfort, that is.

Consider this week a special occasion, friends, because the fugu is around for a limited time only. Generally, Kata Robata sells out of the poisonous fish a short time after it goes on the menu. Call ahead to make sure they still have it, then call your friends and tell them you love them.

Don't worry, Hori is a master at filleting the deadly fish. There's absolutely no danger in consuming it. But what's the harm in making your friends squirm a little?

Location Info



Kata Robata Sushi & Grill

3600 Kirby, Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

My Voice Nation Help

"The fugu by itself is rather bland, which makes me wonder why it's such a delicacy in Japan."

I believe it's because when prepared as sashimi, fugu still contains trace amounts of the poison which often leave the diner with a slightly numb tongue. It's popular for the sensation, not necessarily the taste.


Kuhl! Thanks for this! I tried fugu once at Michiru. Fun stuff

KaitlinS topcommenter

@tinyhands I thought that was the reason too, but the fugu at Kata had none of that numbing effect. Maybe because they're REALLY careful there.

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