Fukuda - globefish pot in the comfortably aged wooden house
The exterior look of Fukuda. The restaurant name is written on the lantern. White papers in the window show their most popular menus with prices.
The Japanese word "nabe
" means pot. However, it is not limited to cookware but also includes meal cooked in a pot at the table. And it is not an exaggeration to say that all Japanese people are fond of nabe. When temperature goes down in late autumn and in winter, people think about eating nabe to warm up the body. In particular when the year end approaches, people get together for bonenkai(*)
and the high-season of nabe comes around. Joint eating is indeed a tool for communication everywhere in the world. We are sure that eating from the same pot especially enhances the sense of togetherness.
- (*)"Bonenkai" literally means "forget the year party". In the year end, people get together for a party. They chat, eat, drink and probably sing loudly to forget all the evils that happened in the year and to welcome the New Year with fresh feeling.
I wonder why Europeans do not have a habit of cooking something at the table and enjoying eating together from the same pot, maybe except for fondue. On the other hand, nabe is a very popular menu in the Far East. I am fond of Korean dubu jjigae
and Chinese huo guo
, for example.
Sake should be served this way. The glass must be overflown to show the generosity of the restaurant.
We have a huge inventory of nabe menus in Japan. Among them "fugu-chiri" is the most exquisite menu. "Fugu
" is globefish which is famous for its poison. "Chiri
" comes from the appearance of fish when dunked in boiling water. "Chiri" is a special style of nabe: cooking in simple boiling water or in konbu (a kind of kelp) soup. The origin of this cooking style is said to refer back to the first Europeans who came to Japan in the mid 19th century. They were unable to eat raw fish and dunked sliced raw fish in boiling water before eating. So, without those Europeans we would not have invented fugu-chiri.
All the ingredients for one portion globefish pot. Severel pieces of globefish meat are put on the vegetables such as leak, Chinese cabbage, shiitake and crown daisy leaves. After cooking, we dip them in sauce before eating.
Spices to be put into the sauce - radish grated together with chili pepper, Japanese chives and kabosu (a kind of citrus fruit)
Cook this way.
Today, we dined at Fukuda, a traditional Japanese restaurant near the JR Nakano station. I happened to discover Fukuda on the way to a supermarket! The wooden facade with a big lantern looked nice and reminded me of traditional style restaurant-buildings which might have been built in the 1950s or 1960s. Its interior was comfortably aged and made me have good expectations.
Fukuda has a variety of menus, but they all appear to be very traditional. We were especially interested in their fugu-chiri and anko-nabe(**)
, because it was already December and my daughter was eager to eat nabe.
- (**)"Anko-nabe" is a nabe menu with angler fish and a specialty menu in Winter season.
While waiting for a table to be ready, we sat down at the counter and ordered drinks and oysters. Oysters were fresh and very tasty, but cost only 950yen.
A few minutes later we were asked to take place at a table. Then we ordered fugu-chiri, cooked scorpion fish, deep fried oysters, grilled vegetables and so on. Though we ordered only one portion fugu-chiri, it was enough for three of us and we could even enjoy rice porridge using the soup of fugu-chiri. All in all I paid less than 15,000 yen that is some 5,000 yen per person, which I found very reasonable, in light of quality and volume of food and thoughtful and comfortable service.
Though new restaurants with ultramodern and shiny interiors are mushrooming, they mostly lack personal touch, in other words the feeling that service staffs pay careful attention to the guests and treat them as individuals. In those houses, foods also lack sensitivity, even when they are eye-catching. Fukuda is without doubt an opposite case and I am fond of this very point. Therefore, I am sure that I will repeatedly go to Fukuda to enjoy their food as well as hospitality.
Open kitchen, counter and some table seats.
5 pieces of fried oyster
5 pieces of fresh oyster
Grilled egg plant with miso based sauce
Fugu-chiri (or Tecchiri)