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Firefly squid

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Hotaru-ika at Zenkichi

Hotaru-ika at Zenkichi Photograph: Roxana Marroquin

On the other side of the world, Japan's Toyama Bay is aglow with neon-blue snack food. Millions of tiny firefly squid, which usually flicker like lightning bugs at the bottom of the sea, are gathering close to the water's surface to spawn, as they do every spring. These bioluminescent cephalopods, which grow to a maximum of three inches long, stage a light show that lures tourists into late-night sightseeing boats—and then the shimmering squid are served at all the local restaurants. But you don't have to travel around the globe to get a taste of hotaru-ika, as it's known in its native land. At Zenkichi (77 North 6th St at Wythe Ave, Williamsburg, Brooklyn; 718-388-8985), the late-spring omakase (eight courses for $48) includes a porcelain spoon filled with firefly squid—barely an inch long each—which are served raw in a lightly sweet and salty miso-vinegar sauce. They won't glow on your plate, but the dish's flavor is as delicate and bright as a flickering undersea light. Zenkichi's seafood supplier imports the critters directly from Japan—since they're extremely perishable, they're generally not available at fish markets. Be sure to visit this romantic Williamsburg izakaya soon, because Zenkichi's ultra-fresh-tasting menu changes with the seasons, and hotaru-ika will be served only until May 10.—Kara Zuaro

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