Imagine yourself sitting down to a delicious warming winter meal. There’s nothing like nabe (Japanese hot pot) on a dark, cold evening. And there are so many choices! Pork, chicken, fish, seafood, monkey… Hang on a second … MONKEY?!

As soon as they heard that monkey hot-pot was on the menu at the Sakagura Niigata restaurant in Tokyo, a reporter from our Japanese sister site headed out to find out if it could possibly be true. Here’s what they found.

Monkeys hold a conflicting place in the Japanese consciousness: traditionally regarded as messengers from the gods; adored as cute hot spring bathers… but also hunted as vermin, and now yours to enjoy in a delicious warming hot pot. The owner of  Sakagura Niigata, located in Tokyo’s Itabashi ward, is a keen hunter who regularly heads up to the mountains of Niigata Prefecture to shoot monkeys, as well as bears, ducks and boar.

▼Surely not these cute little guys!?

After ordering his monkey stew and waiting for 15 or 20 minutes, our gastronomically intrepid reporter was getting pretty hungry! The staff brought over the hot pot ingredients, and set the pot on the burner (in restaurants, nabe is typically brought as a bowl loaded with raw ingredients to your table, where you cook it yourself).


At first, he couldn’t see any monkey meat, but after some poking around in the pot our reporter found it buried at the bottom, apparently to let it cook better.


Once the hot pot has simmered and the flavours have had a chance to infuse, it’s time to try the meat itself! Our man pulls out a morsel from the bubbling pot. It looks just like pork, beef or one of those other “normal” meats that most people aren’t squeamish about trying.


The taste, though, is definitely not like any other meat.

Monkey meat, he finds, has an exceptionally delicate taste. “It’s not even like chicken!” our reporter declares. “It’s so subtle, it’s more like a vegetable than a meat!” The texture, however, is weirdly resilient to human teeth: however much he chews, he just can’t bite through.

If monkeys are just too cute for you, fear not: apparently the restaurant also has bear hot pot and deep-fried boar on the menu. Our reporter sampled the bear meat, too, finding it to be surprisingly delicious. “It’s even more succulent than wagyu (high-grade Japanese beef)”, he claims.

So there you have it! Monkey beats chicken, but bear is even more delicious than cow. We can’t say we’d be especially inclined to go for any of these, but if you’re the adventurous type when it comes to your grub, which would you sample first? Let us know in the comments.

Restaurant Information
Sakagura Niigata,
Shimura 3-28-1,
Itabashi, Tokyo
Open 18:00-23:00, closed on public holidays.




Images: RocketNews24, Wikimedia Commons

[ Read in Japanese ]