Behold The Majesty Of A Grilled “Ayu!”
This is a plate of delicious grilled Ayu. I know what you are thinking: so what exactly IS an “Ayu?”
First, here it is again, presented beautiful on a plate, grilled to perfection…
The Story Of The “Ayu!”
There is a little fish that swims in the rivers of Japan. It is slim, with silvery grey scales and little flecks of gold. It is small, about three inches in length. It’s part of the salmon family and thrives in central and southern Japan….how do I know all this? Because I have bitten down hard on them, and they are delicious!
According to a website:
“the “Ayu” fish is deeply connected with the Japanese culture. Ayu, also known as Sweetfish, has been likened to the cherry blossom, heralding the arrival of summer just as cherry blossoms signify spring – or just as grilled hot dogs and hamburgers spell summer in the US.”
The “Ayu” Is Very Limited!
The “Ayu” are born in autumn, head out to sea in winter, then swim upstream in spring. They bulk up in the summer and then spawn in the fall…their entire life cycle is one year…which makes our trip to Tokyo in July so special: as we were treated to “Ayu” many times in a single delicious week!
Three Star Kojyu!
My wife Alex and son Jeff were part of this adventure, as we went into the three Michelin-starred restaurant Kojyu, located in the Ginza district of Tokyo.
It is owned and operated by sushi chef Toru Okuda.
Ginza Kojyu’s Three Star Experience!
Chef Okuda oversees a sushi counter that seats nine people, and for almost three hours, you sit expectantly for whatever incredible piece of food he sets in front of you, “Kaiseki” style – meaning a collection of dishes designed to showcase the food of Japan…
Here is how Chef Okuda explains his love of “Ayu”, according to his restaurant’s website:
“It became the specialties of small ten,
Broiled seasonal grilled and natural Daiunagi of Wakaayu were we doing.
Skewered the alive was ayu from customers is coming to the store,
You’ll burn in charcoal over slowly and carefully time.
Head and crispy as fried chicken, liver is bittersweet and sweet, followed as it is to the taste of the meat. There is no need to pull out the bone, you can enjoy everything from head to tail.
In addition, natural Daiunagi is carefully in charcoal without steamed baked, we will finish the broiled while paint carefully the homemade sauce.
Of course, but because it is a natural product and may not be available for reasons such as weather, I think that you certainly relish this opportunity.”
Turning Up The Heat!
While Chef Okuda performs his culinary magic in front of us, his apprentices are taking care of grilling the Ayu – literally over in the corner of the sushi bar, and you can smell the flavorful grilling as it is underway in front of you!
The Chef Demonstrates!
After the fish were grilled, approved by Chef and presented to us, Chef Okuda took a moment to show us all how easy “Ayu” were to enjoy!
This was a terrific experience – just nine of us having the meal of our lives…captured by Alex for Instagram!
The Park Hyatt Celebrates The Ayu!
Next, we ate at The Park Hyatt Hotel, where we were staying – yes, the “Lost In Translation” hotel!
As part of our Kaiseki meal, the Park Hyatt Chefs presented us each with an “Ayu” to enjoy – delicious!
Michelin Three Star “Ishikawa” Grills Up The “Ayu” As Well!
Yes, virtually every great restaurant we went to offered us some grilled “Ayu”.
“Kagurazaka Ishikawa” is a Michelin 3-star sushi restaurant in the Shinjuku district. It is owned and operated by sushi Chef Hideki Ishikawa.
Here we are with outside of his restaurant – he greeted us when we arrived and also took us outside afterwards to help us get our cab!
I will post a story about this Chef’s entire meal, which was phenomenal, and worthy of all of the acclaim. On this night, he had one of his Assistants bring us two grilled Ayu to enjoy.
We love how so many of our meals included this delicacy!
In fact, we were served it a half dozen times, including as a special added part of a tradition kaiseki meal – this time coming with the head and tail removed – presented to us on the side – but I would have eaten them once again as well!
As much as we loved our “grilled Ayu” experience, it was just one of many magical Tokyo food adventures…
We ate Bento boxes, that were served by the Chefs who then proceeded to perform a musical set for us!
See this unique musical lunch by clicking here:
Some of our food adventure involved buying food that was actually made of plastic!
Yes, Tokyo’s legendary Kappabashi district sells Tokyo restaurants all of their plastic food – click here to find out why!
We also hit some of Tokyo’s smallest bars in Golden Gai – 275 bars all holding less than ten people!
My son Jeff made friends with one of the staffers at one such bar, and he proceeded to perform live music for us one night!
Click here to see this terrific live performance!
Let me know if you’ve ever had “Ayu!”
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