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Just before Christmas of 2007, Tyson and I went to Kanoyama for a holiday dinner. Having read about the restaurant in various online forums, we were interested in trying out a new sushi place... but mostly, we were looking forward to trying the bluefin tuna rib, or nakaochi.

We recently returned to Kanoyama, following its write-up in the Times as a good "recession" sushi option (along with Sushi Azabu, neither of which are "recessionary" by our standards, but oh well). We found the sashimi to be as fresh and delicious as the first time we went, but unfortunately there was no nakaochi to be found on the menu.

The Kanoyama site disclaims that nakaochi is only available when the restaurant has purchased a "good, in-season Blue Fin tuna", so in case anyone reading has gone to the restaurant and missed out on this one-of-a-kind culinary experience, we decided a dedicated post was in order.

Above are the nakaochi photos taken in December 2007. In contrast to everything else at Kanoyama, the nakaochi is presented rather modestly. The rib—which looked more like meat than fish to me initially—simply sits on a white plate adorned with a small yellow flower. But the rib itself is rather impressive to look at: the bright red tuna meat clinging to the rib, and the dark marrow surrounding the backbone are pretty appetizing.

The way to go about eating it is to scoop out (a spoon works by far the best, although we tried chopsticks as well) the raw fish from the grooves in the ribs. The flesh tends to peel up in wide, thin ribbons, with leftover crumbles scattering about or clinging to the bone. The meat had a full flavor even though it was so delicate, and the texture was almost silky... all the more appreciated since you had to work for a spoonful.

Once you've scraped off as much meat as possible, the server takes the bones away, grills them, and then returns them to your table with a ponzu dipping sauce. There's not too much left to eat at this point, but the joy in getting a second chance to re-eat the dish (grilled and hot, nonetheless!) is well worth it. You can get a meaty taste from the grilled bones and you can try to pick off any remaining scraps of tuna meat. It might not really amount to too much, but it is a thoroughly enjoyable experience nonetheless.

To conclude, a blurry photo of the sushi and sashimi we enjoyed when the tuna rib was unavailable.

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3 comments

  • Oh wow this is fascinating, thanks Caroline!!! I never heard of serving tuna this way- pretty great. Thanks for recalling all the flavors and texures! 2007 was a long long time ago…

    Ricky just mentioned Kanoyama in my anago post the other day- he says that they kill the eel on the spot and make sushi with it right then and there. The anago there on your plate looks pretty awesome.

    kayoko on

  • I just went back after a 2 year break from this place they included the nakaochi. The waitress explained how to eat it, told us not to scoop much off.

    Aya, sit at the counter next time or pray that you dont get a model\side actor american waitstaff member. The waiter asked me what I dont eat and I told them I dont like sazae, and aoyagi, he was like ummm, and sent a Japanese waiter over and all was well.

    Ricky on

  • Nakaochi sounds interesting — but I went to Kanoyama for the first time a couple months ago and was quite unimpressed. The wait staff were lollygagging around, very unprofessional, and the food was just meh. (We had sushi deluxe)

    ayagwa on

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