Monday, April 19, 2010

Wriggle squirm chew! Eating Live Fish in Noto

"I am so excited, I am going to eat live fish in Noto on Sunday!"
"Oh, you mean, like, sashimi?"
"No! Not raw fish, LIVE fish. Fish that are STILL ALIVE!"

I had this conversation a few times over the past week as I excitedly prepared to chomp over two dozen live little fishies at Chanko Nabe Ichihin Ryouri RIKI, a restaurant in Anamizu. I really had no idea what to expect, but I have been extremely curious for several years, ever since an old KIRO coworker showed me a video of him in a Tokyo restaurant pinching a flipping fish between a pair of chopsticks.

What I did not expect was a modest little family restaurant with a small aquarium on it's counter. It was absolutely bustling with tiny, transparent fish called isaza, plucked from the Sea of Japan just down the road. I also didn't expect the fish to look as though they were smiling. We put in an order and padded it with some snapper sashimi, local fish and vegetable tempura-don, and grilled oysters and leeks with butter.

As you will see in the video, I came into the experience a little bit cocky. I had no idea that I would be initially terrified of the little fish, squirming, wriggling and splashing around in the bowl of water before me. They were either saying "Please please eat me! Pick me! Pick me!" or "Holy shit! We have to escape NOW!" Despite what the folks at PETA might say, fish can't talk or make facial expressions, so it was impossible to tell what they were going on about but clearly they were freaking the fuck out about something. So was I. They were smiling, they were slippery and I was about to kill them with my teeth.

Turns out it only takes about two little fish to change me from a wimp into a savage. Soon enough I was holding one in my mouth before chewing, feeling it flip and frolic about like a bouncy ball let loose in a racquetball court. Sometimes I swallowed them whole, disappointed when I didn't feel them wriggling down my throat and swimming around in my stomach. By the end, full from the rest of our meal and still marveling at the amazing oysters, I just wanted to get rid of the last four little suckers. One by one I chopsticked them into my soy sauce, added a little water, and shot the whole thing back. I let them swim around inside my soy mouth aquarium before chewing them up and swallowing them down.

Here's a quick little shorty:

One more if you just haven't had enough. This one's pretty entertaining:


  1. That second video is my favorite thing ever.

  2. What a surprise to know that those lil buggers would be so hard to pick up!

  3. i'm not quite sick enough to swallow any living things.......
    At least kill them first !
    I though u're eating them for a " killing sensation"
    But i hope that i was wrong...

  4. people, why are you eating ANIMALS?! THERE SOULS LIKE US!