I have had many culinary adventures during my travels to Japan. But none of them tops the very fancy and amazing dinner that one of our partners threw us while in Tokyo in 2004. And, in fact it was special because of the amazing variety of food, top-shelf sake and the huge rotting fish head sitting on the buffet table. Yes, it may look like decoration. It might look like something cured and specially prepared in some way. Perhaps it was. But when I entered the room there was a distinctive smell. I wasn’t sure what it was as I hung up my coat and found a place to set my bag, but I knew it was coming from the direction of the buffet table. I looked up and saw it while simultaneously getting a huge, full-powered, dead-fish-packed-wallop of an smell injected full-force into my nostrils. I almost hurled right there. That would not have been polite to our gracious hosts.
I did not eat or even make eye contact with the fish head the entire night. I’m sure it was possibly the most extravagant culinary display that could have been provided to us, but I think it was lost on our simple American tastes. Even the picture does not do justice as to how foul smelling and shocking the entire scene was. Seriously, look at it. That is a rotting dead fish head being served for dinner! We still had a great time with our Japanese friend that night. No eye contact – don’t look at it – it can sense your fear.
Taken from the andy simonds blog: 04-Japan