It came to the attention of our staff recently that there’s a restaurant down in Osaka that serves deep-fried axolotl. You know, the Mexican salamanders. The ones that had an enormous boom in popularity in the 1980s. the ones that are proudly kept in cool tanks as adorable pets. The ones that inspired the creation of the Pokémon, Wooper. Those axolotl!

Our sweet, little reporter Usagi didn’t realize that by bringing up the topic of eating axolotl she’s be asked to write an article about it, but that’s what happens when one introduces strange and interesting foods to our editors! It was time for our reporter to chow down on some deep-fried adorable salamanders.

The restaurant and pub selling axolotl is about a three minute walk from Shijounawate Station on the JR Gakkentoshi Line. Its name is Takara Yuki Sakebou (宝雪酒坊), with the kanji characters for Treasure Snow Drinking House.

Still doubting whether or not a restaurant could really expect people to eat an animal so cute, our brave reporter checked the signboard out front, but sure enough, axolotl was right there at the top of the list, served deep-fried for 1,300 yen (US$13). The rumors were true!

Inside the restaurant, there was a very friendly atmosphere, and the staff were quite welcoming. The kitchen area was located right in the center of the room, with a wrap-around counter for seating.

In addition to axolotl, the menu listed an array of other foods exotic to Japan, such as ostrich, alligator, and kangaroo. But for starters, our meek, little reporter peeked over the edge of her menu and ordered herself a glass of draft beer and some deep fried axolotl. Upon ordering, she was kindly asked if she would like to see the axolotl before they cooked it, but she declined, already feeling a bit disturbed by the idea of eating a creature she found so adorable. It didn’t help that a tank on the counter contained some live salamanders happily floating about!

Thankfully, when our reporter asked her server about the axolotl in the tank, she was told, “No, we don’t fry those. They’re our pets.” …Eh? It may seem a bit strange or perhaps hypocritical to keep an animal as a pet while selling its battered-and-fried brethren with a side of pickles, but apparently the pub prides itself on both the cuteness of the axolotl and their deliciousness.

Then, the deep-fried dish arrived. Much to the surprise and slight horror of our dear reporter, it retained the full shape of the axolotl!


From the head to the tail and with everything in between, the whole salamander was in there! The batter was thin enough around the head that even the eyes were visible!

Unfazed by the disconcerting shape of the dish, but equally understanding of how rare it is to eat axolotl in Japan, the waitress was kind enough to take a picture of our reporter’s first bite. She recommended starting at the head, perhaps to stop those dead eyes from staring, but our reporter, being a bit less adventurous from the outset, decided to go from the tail.

The first bite revealed a flavor similar to white meat fish. It tasted great with a sprinkling of salt, but was equally tasty without. Eating further in, there was a distinct crunchy texture to add to the flavor. This must have been the spine, since none of the bones were removed before frying. Most likely, this dish wouldn’t really compliment a side of rice, but it goes surprisingly well with beer.

Apparently, this store and their fried axolotl have become a recent favorite of the local second grade kids. It really is a dish for all ages! Absolutely anyone curious for a taste of this delicacy should head over to Shijounawate and give it a try!

Store information:

Takara Yuki Sakebou (宝雪酒坊)
Address: 3-11 Gakuenchou Daitou-shi Osaka-fu
Hours: 5 p.m.-11 p.m., Mon- Sat

Photos: RocketNews24

▼The meal came with an appetizer of pickles.


▼Most of the menu seemed very Osakan, with okonomiyaki (savory pancakes) and skewers of pork.


▼Fried axolotl tops the menu as their most popular dish!


▼A view from above.


▼And now from the side.


▼This dish looks ready to bite you back!



▼Here’s the tail end.


▼Notice the little legs.


▼You can still see the eyes…


▼The staff was kind enough to take a picture as our reporter posed for a head chomp.


▼The half-eaten axolotl.


▼Here’s a cross-section. All of the organs have been removed, so just the meat and bones are left.


▼After polishing off the axolotl, our reporter decided to try a bit of grilled kangaroo!


▼The meat was very rare, and dripping red.


▼Here’s the outside of the restaurant, just a short three minutes’ walk from Shijounawate Station.


▼Interesting menu board: axolotl, frog, alligator, ostrich, sea lion, kangaroo, soft-shelled turtle, and horse meat are all featured!

[ Read in Japanese ]