Japanese Lunch Tasting: Raw Whale Meat [Video]

October 9, 2017

With over 230,000 known species in our oceans, we have an incredibly diverse selection of seafood to consume. We eat tuna, eel, lobster, squid, and many other types of water-based life. But one creature is less popular among the average consumer because of availability and ethics.

Whale. The stallion of the sea.

Whale meat is not something I’ve ever considered eating in my life. This is due mostly to where my perceptions of eating whale originated from:

  • Whale blubber: An incredibly fatty and gross, yet funny, sounding meat
  • Whale Wars: An Animal Planet television series following the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society attempting to stop Japanese vessels from illegal whale hunting.

Not the most positive images.

So Why Would I Try Whale Meat?

My perceptions were recently shattered when I learned eating whale is actually legal in Japan. Despite whale being legal, Japanese whaling and whale consumption among citizens has declined in the past few years, according to an article from BBC News.

The article provides a statistic stating, “The average consumption of whale meat by Japanese people in 2015 was just 30g (one ounce) per person.” Compared to the fact that, according to statistics from GlobalMeatNews.com, the average Japanese person consumed 6,826g (240 oz) of pork in 2016, we see the appetite for whale is almost nonexistent.

Learning all of this considerably piqued my curiosity for whale meat.

Can it taste that bad? Are we actually driving whales to extinction? What was in the box at the end of the movie Se7en?

Along with whale, Japan has other strange meat options that sound just as interesting. I decided to let my followers vote on which food I should try next with a poll on my Twitter and Instagram.

Twitter Whale Meat PollInstagram Whale Meat Poll

Turns out others were curious about whale meat as well. Whale won against raw horse (basashi) and blowfish (fugu) pretty decisively. An official whale meat tasting was now in order.

Let the Tasting Begin

With my mind focused on whale after a quick read of Moby Dick (not really), I headed to a restaurant called Kujiraya. Kujiraya is THE whale meat restaurant, and they make sure you know. Thank you to my cousin Patrick for the recommendation.

Whale Meat Restaurant

Unlike superstore Don Quijote, Kujiraya takes a specialization approach and only serves one thing: whale. They do offer multiple preparations of whale meat like sashimi, fried and tempura. I went with the sashimi lunch course, which cost 1,468 Japanese Yen (~$13 USD).

Whale Meat Menu

Whale Meat Course

Watch the video above for the full review, reaction and ranking of the sashimi whale meat meal.

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Want to watch more taste test videos? Check out my tasting of dried crab, minnow and seaweed.


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