The Return of the Blowfish

Kata Robata Specialty

Laurann Claridge
January 17, 2014

It’s that time of year when fat cats with a yen for pricey fish hunt for December’s freshest, most elusive catch: fugu. Aficionados of fugu — known as blowfish or pufferfish — take their taste for this possibly toxic, potentially lethal fish quite seriously. While spring brings on the spawning season of this Japanese culinary delicacy, fugu’s exorbitant prices escalate through autumn and peak during the winter season, when these elusive fish have fattened up to brace themselves for the cold temperatures beneath the water’s edge. While the Emperor of Japan has been forbidden for centuries to dine on fugu, you’re invited to savor the fabled fish at Kata Robata this month. Renowned sushi chef Manabu “Hori” Horiuchi is reputed to be one of a dozen or so experts in the U.S. who is a certified fugu chef. This is no mail-order degree; fugu chefs must, by Japanese law, complete a two- to three-year apprenticeship followed by practical and written exams, where only 35 percent of applicants pass the rigorous testing — a process that all but insures toxins like tetrodotoxin won’t show up in your sashimi. See what all the fuss is about at Kata Robata this month. About $35 for five pieces, at Kata Robata, 3600 Kirby Dr., 713.526.8858;