Deep-Fried Salamander Served In A Peculiar But Cosy Pub Outside Osaka
(This article was originally posted in Japanese at 10:30 Aug. 11, 2010)
Our reader informed us of a cosy izakaya (Japanese style pub) in the eastern suburb of Osaka city that serves a variety of bizarre dishes, among them the speciality deep-fried axolotl (species of Mexican salamander commonly kept as pets, often sold under the name Wooper-Looper in Japan; used to be all the rage back in the '80s). So off we went.
Pics after the cut! (Not recommended for the weak of heart, vegetarians, or animal rights activists.)
The joint's called "Takarayuki Shubo"(lit. Treasure Snow Pub).
Located right in front of Shijonawate Station.
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"Wooper-Looper no Karaage"(Deep-fried salamander) is listed at the top of the menu, amongst other wicked dishes like "Deep-fried Frog", "Deep-fried Alligator", "Alligator Sashimi", "Steller Sea Lion Steak" and "Kangaroo Steak".
Click to see English translation of the menu. Remember, these aren't usual Japanese cuisine. Most Japanese probably won't ever eat any of these in their whole life.
"Hatsu Wooper-Looper Karaage", 1,300 yen (about $15.20). "Hatsu" means something like "first batch", so we must have chanced on the beginning of salamander season.
Here's the deep-fried salamander.
Resting on deep-fried noodles, accompanied by bell peppers.
It might look like a fish at first glance, but difinitely has legs.
With his mouth wide open.
Hard to see the distinctive external gill stalks (rami) behind its head.
Neatly curled tail. If you inspect him too long, he'll start to look cute...
...or more gross. There was a disagreement among our staff on that matter.
Anyway, don't think, eat!
Just grab it while it's hot! That's the spirit!
C'mon, sometimes you've got to push yourself!
No, this is not chickening out: it's called strategy. He decided to strategically apply soy sauce and eat with chopsticks.
Finally took a bite. Cooked with expertise, it's crunchy on the outside and the meat is cooked just right: not too dry, not raw but not overcooked. Sort of like fish and chips but the taste is light and subtle like white meat of an expensive freshwater fish (hamo and ayu came to mind), no unpleasant smell or muddy taste. Goes well with lemon and salt or soy sauce.
So, other than the looks, and the fact that you're eating a salamander, it was actually quite good. With countless tiny bones it must be nutritious too, high in calcium.
We've tried many more delicacies at this pub, and will be posting our reviews soon!
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