The trick about eating poisonous fugu (puffer fish) is to bring a friend along, and let your friend eat first. If your friend lives, you can itadakimasu.
Fuku (which derives its name from the Chinese character 福, fortune) is the first full-fledged fugu restaurant in Singapore. Most ingredients are imported from Japan. The best season for fugu is during Oct – Nov. Set meals range from 6-course farmed fugu ($150/pax) to 9-course wild fugu ($580/pax), which requires 5-day advance booking to fly the wild fish in. We were treated to a 9-course meal ($250/pax).
This is my second time eating fugu. My first was at Torafugutei とらふ in Tokyo so I more or less knew what to expect. Eating fugu is really about the experience. Unlike salmon or tuna, fugu itself is rather bland and chewy. The fish leaves a tingling, prickly sensation in your tongue. Unfortunately (or fortunately), Japanese strict authorities only allow cleaned fugu to be exported, so while the fugu at Fuku won’t leave a tingle, the plus side is you won’t die.
The set menu serves fugu done in different ways: parboiled, sashimi-ed, deep-fried, grilled, braised, and hot-pot. My favorite was karaage (deep-fried, pictured above), partly because the batter added taste to the otherwise bland fish, and partly because my fat-boy DNA screamed FRIED FOOD.
I seldom admit that others have more sophisticated taste than me, but William, my skinny friend, may be the connoisseur here, preferring yubiki (above), or fugu skin parboiled to a gelatinous texture, dipped in a zest ponzu shoyu. The zousui (below) was a belly-warming way to end the long flight of fugu course: rice and egg were added to the fugu hot-pot, so the rice absorbed the essence of fugu.
Besides the set courses, Fuku also offers a la carte items like fugu shirako (sperm, below), and sushi. Also try the hiresake, a hot, strong, piercing sake with sun-dried fugu–rather interesting.
My qualm was $250 for a meal was expensive. But considering I had a 5-course fugu meal in Tokyo at S$110, $250 for 9 courses seems reasonable?
I said previously that eating fugu is about the experience, not taste, the experience of dauntlessness, or the experience of remembrance. When I left the restaurant, I saw 4 or 5 tables of homesick Japanese salarymen. They were longing for home, trying to remember things past, things lost–and perhaps they found it here.
14 Mohamed Sultan Rd, #01-01 Singapore 238963
T: +65 6235 8216
Written by A. Nathanael Ho.
Thanks Melody for the invite.