Diners at Misakikan Honten can be forgiven if the experience gives them a big head. This restaurant at the tip of the Miura Peninsula in southeastern Kanagawa (across the water from Jogashima) lays claim to being the first restaurant in Japan to serve maguro no kabuto-yaki, gigantic grilled tuna heads that come from fish sometimes weighing in the vicinity of 100 kilograms!
While the menu at Misakikan Honten tempts with a variety of items, the kabuto-yaki is unquestionably the chief lure. The dish is an adaptation of the local fishermen’s practice of using their boat engines to steam and smoke (and then of course eat) a decapitated portion of their catch while out at sea. The more refined version that you can order for your group here on shore makes a photogenic centerpiece (not to mention conversation piece), as well as a hearty supplement to your regular meal. The tasty morsels carved out by our waitress ranged from lean and dark to collagen-rich and glistening, and I found the diversity of edibles from a single head impressive.
Lunch sets at Misakikan Honten run between ¥2,600 and ¥6,300 and give you a good sampling of different maguro dishes, including almost-obligatory maguro sashimi and many lesser-known treats. I treated myself to the ¥5,000 Ume course (梅コース), which includes more parts of the maguro than I would ever have imagined eating before spending time in such a fish-loving country as Japan. Highlights included the maguro sashimi, of course, as well as some delicious boiled maguro (kaku-ni or 角煮). I enjoyed the maguro-egg dish (boiled, not raw), though that and the maguro stomach may not be for everyone. Overall the food was tasty, well-presented, and more than enough to fill a western belly even without the pièce de résistance.
About the grilled tuna heads that bring people from far and wide to the Misaki area, the menu states that a large one serves up to 20 people, but I think that is conservative. Regardless, it makes a striking centerpiece and works out to less than 1,000 per person at ¥17,500. Small heads serve up to eight (though I would say more) and run ¥10,500. Also, if you reserve “Maguro Zukushi” sets (¥5,000 or ¥6,300 each) for at least 15 people, the kabuto-yaki is provided at no charge!
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