An unidentified woman was temporarily hospitalized after experiencing a headache and numbness of the lips on her way home from the restaurant. She has recovered.
According to Chuo-district officials, the woman and a male friend were served liver ponzu (soy-lemon) on the evening of Nov. 10. The chefs were hoping that customers would only experience minor numbness. The fugu liver was not listed on the menu and the customers may have requested it.
Some consider the liver the tastiest part but it is also the most poisonous, and serving fugu liver in restaurants was banned in Japan in 1984.
Claims against the 62-year-old owner were filed for violating the food law at the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department. His famous restaurant in the upscale Ginza area of Tokyo received a two star rating in the 2012 edition of the Michelin Guide.
It is said eating the parts of fugu that contain nerve toxin is much deadlier than cyanide. Japanese fugu epicureans have been known to drop dead for centuries. Some see it as deadly eating game akin to Russian Roulette.
The famous kabuki actor Mitsugora Bando VIII, declared a Living National Treasure by the Japanese government, died in 1975 after eating fugu fillets cooked in a pot with toxic fugu livers, skins, and intestines. For years, he had survived on bowl after bowl served to him until one night in a Kyoto restaurant when he died during his fourth helping.
There are also many poems written about fugu:
“I cannot see her tonight,
I have to give her up,
So I will eat fugu.”
Chefs undergo rigorous training, and the law in Japan strictly controls the preparation of fugu: only chefs who are qualified are allowed to deal with the fish.
Fugu is served as sashimi and chirinabe (fugu hot pot dish) and remains one of the country’s most celebrated and famous dishes.