I'm finding all these pictures from my Japan trip that I never blogged, so please excuse this outdated trip down memory lane.

I went to a kabuki show in Asakusa (in Tokyo) and afterwards, my family took me to feast on dojo, a small eel-like fish prepared in various ways. The whole experience was right out of a David Lynch film- these little fish are so slimy and grotesque it boggles my mind as to what went through people's mind when they decided to start eating them.

But they did, and the tradition has continued for hundreds of years now. My dad says that people started eating these fish because they swam in abundance in rice fields and were caught all over Japan.

There are a few restaurants in Asakusa particularly, that specialize in dojo, and they spell it in the old school way どぜう (dozeu). The most well-known restaurant is Komagata Dozeu, but we went to one called Dozeu Iidaya, which my family thinks is better. The people of Tokyo have seriously strong views of their restaurant choices and stand by them until they die. You never argue, just follow.

Iidaya has been around since around 1903, in the middle of the Meiji period, and is today run by the fourth generation Iida family. I am not sure that it's been in the same location the entire time, but the entire experience felt very OLD- it was as though I was sitting on a movie set from a hundred years ago.

My family themselves have been coming here since they were young, for something like thirty, forty years. The entire experience was quite surreal, and I enjoyed all of it very much.

Outside there's a lightbox featuring their dojo specialties, and other dishes. We basically ordered all of it, and more.

Let's start with the most traditional prepration of dojo, the dojo nabe (stew). Not for the easily urked- it's pretty crazy looking. They are bottom dwellers so they actually look like miniature cat fish. The fish are all layed out while still alive in this very shallow pan in a sweet soy broth, then simmered at the table. It's about one order per person, although we kept ordering more.

Couldn't get a good macro shot, but you pick up the fish this way. This is it- head, teeth and all.

They taste just as they look: slimy and slippery, more gelatinous than eel. As you can see, they break quite easily. The bones were the most surprising- quite sharp and you really have to chew on it for a while to be able to swallow it. I'm sure people die from misswallowing (is that a word??) these bones every year- it was actually kinda dangerous, I thought.

Add a heap of finely chopped green onions. Everyone joked that people just come here and feast on the green onions cause it's free and unlimited. We must have gotton like twenty refills.

We ordered a side of egg and poured it over the pan. Some people at the table thought this was bizarre, so it must not be a normal thing. But it was actually quite good.

You can also add gobo (burdock root) and tofu.

Here's my little plate.

Alright, what else did we eat?

Dojo kabayaki: like eel they are cut lenth-wise, grilled and sauced. This definitely tasted like eel, for obvious reasons. Most places that serve dojo will also have eel on the menu as well.

Fried dojo: lightly battered and deep fried.

They shrink exponentially!

Dojo cooked with egg. This was excellent.

Dojo miso soup. This is so fucking creepy looking, with the little dojo peaking out onto the surface!!! It's like they're gonna jump out and bite you in the face.

Do I sit in bed at night and crave dojo?? No. But it was definitely an awesome experience for food explorers- I think this is definitely needs to be a stop on No Reservations.

Here I am in front of the kabuki theater.

The Asahi building down the street, with a large piece of pointy golden shit on it.


3-3-2 Nishi-Asakusa, Taito-ku
Tokyo 111-0035
T: 03-3843-0881


  • whoa! that looks crazy. reminds me of some kind of Halloween Haunted House booth.

    e d b m on

  • they look like penis stew..

    Yamahomo on

  • Someone should totally dress up as one of these for Halloween.

    kayoko on

  • I’ve been to building before (The one with the gold point thing on it!).

    Melissa on

  • Is this what your penis looks like???

    Don't answer that.

    kayoko on

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