A cluster of food safety certificates on the walls should assuage the fears of even the most ardent fuguphobes – the blowfish at this Taito-ku restaurant, right in between Asakusa and Ueno, won’t kill you. Quite the contrary, in fact. After eating a mustard-flecked cube of wobbly nikogori, boiled fugu in its own jelly, you’ll have a spring in your step, and not only because you successfully ate the hardest food in the world to negotiate with chopsticks. The creations produced by the gregarious husband-and-wife team at this unostentatious seafood restaurant are vivid and stimulating.
The menu is short: fugu six ways (jellied, raw, grilled, deep-fried, soup, hot pot) plus Makino’s blowfish-free signature dish, a colossal hot pot of crab, daikon and melting butter, to be topped up with rice, cod roe and egg when you’ve polished off the seafood. Aside from the food safety certificates, the décor consists of some peculiar fugu-centric conceptual art (one appears to portray a lady happily bathing inside a blowfish’s belly), well-stocked sake shelves and low seating on tatami mats. Fugu is winter food in Japan so don’t plan a visit in the summer, not least because Mr and Mrs Fujii will be away on their annual holiday in Hawaii.