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Mar 24, 2013 05:54 PM

Hotaru lka

About two weeks ago, l went to Blue Ribbon izakaya late night after work; l was in a chirashi mood, for some reason. l hadn't had it in a very long while, and l had a hankerin'. Only one problem: there's no chirashi on the menu [which l always thought was kinda odd]. Since l'm a regular there, and l get along very well with the staff, l didn't think l'd be too out of line if l requested that one be made for's just sashimi over a bowl of rice, right?

Well! Not only was my request cheerfully fulfilled with no problem, l was presented with something absolutely fabulous, with one item in particular that really lit up my taste buds: in addition to relatively standard [very high-quality] items like salmon, tuna, and snapper, there was something in the bowl that l didn't recognize, and that was not mentioned by my server. l wasn't quite sure what they were, and the restaurant's low lighting didn't help, but they looked like little baby squid, each about an inch and a half long. l popped one in my mouth, and was amazed: very, very tender and tasty squid on the outside, but the inside was something else entirely. The best way l can describe it is like a burst of lobster roe, a very similar flavor, absolutely delicious.

l asked my server what these were; she apologised that she didn't realize that the dish had included them: hotaru ika, firefly squid. Apparently these little guys, when alive, are bioluminescent. They are certainly very interesting in life and on the palate!

l'm not sure if they're on the menu all the time; you should definitely ask for them if you go.

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  1. Tee season started a few weeks ago. You will find them used in all styles of Japanese restaurants.

    5 Replies
      1. Bought some at Mitsuwa last month. They are often served as otoshi at restaurants in Japan.

        1. sounds good, i eat here somewhat regularly bc its easy to walk in to, so ill definitely give it a try. you just asked them for a chirashi bowl right?

          2 Replies
          1. re: Lau

            Yes; even though it's not on the menu, they were totally cool about it.

          2. Firefly squid are fantastic. I'll usually hit Kanoyama or Blue Ribbon for them when the season arrives.

            1 Reply
            1. re: sgordon

              l'm so happy l was turned on to them!