Fish Facts

Akoudai, sometimes called Akou or Menuke in some parts of Japan, has a very unique look because its eyes, which apppear to be almost popping out of its head. In English it is known as Red Rockfish, and as the name implies, its entire body has a beautiful bright red skin. They live in the deep sea of southern coasts of Japan, ranging from 500 to 1000 meters (1700 to 3300 feet) and this is the reason why their eyes are so extruded; because of the water pressure. The meat is identical to Kinmedai (Golden Eye snapper), containing high amount of fat and is extremely tender. It is suited for any kind of cooking method. The season for this fish is winter.
There are many kinds of Kamasu (in English known as Japanese Whiting or Baracuda) that can be caught on the southern coastline of Japan: Aka-Kamasu (Red barracuda), Yamato-Kamasu (Japanese barracuda), Ao-Kamasu(Blue barracuda) and Oni-Kamasu (Devil baraccuda), to name a few. The most popular variety is Aka-Kamasu, also known as Hon-Kamasu (True-baraccuda). Kamasu is a very aggressive predator that can be swim as fast as 150km/h (90m/h). It has slightly longer under jaw than upper jaw which has very sharp teeth in order to catch other edible fish. It can be grow as large as 50cm (16 inch) and the season is in summer and fall. The most popular cooking method for this fish is salt grilling, but it is also very tasty as sashimi when it's fresh. At our restaurant, we marinate with "Shiraita-Konbu" (white kelp) then we blow torch the skin so that customer can taste the smoky skin with tasty meat together.
Kisu, Japanese sillago or whiting, can be found anywhere on the coastline of Japan except the Okinawa islands. It is also abundant from the south China sea to the Korean peninsula. It is impossible to talk about "Edomae-Tempura" (Tokyo-style tempura) without this fish because Kisu is very delicious when it is cooked with oil. Although Kisu is famous for Tempura, it is also suitable for most other types of cooking because of the it's delicate white meat. It is a very popular fish for anglers because you do not need any special skill to catch this fish. At Kanoyama, we marinate this fish with kelp (Kobujime) so that it accentuates the delicate white meat with the flavor of kelp. The best season for this fish is in summer.
Kuromutsu (Japanese blue fish) is abundant throughout the coastline of Japan, the southern part of Korea and the northern part of Taiwan. They love to eat small fish, shrimp, crab and squid; for this they have numerous sharp canine teeth on the upper and bottom jaws. Young Koromutsu live close to the shoreline but they change their field of activity as they grow up to the deeper ocean. As a matter of fact, most Koromutsu that we find at the fish market have been caught in the deep sea, ranging from 200 to 700 meters (650 to 2300 feet). Kuromutsu might not be the most appealing-looking fish, but it has some of the most deliciously marbled white meat in spite of it's appearance. You can find Kuromutsu almost a year round in Japan but the best season for this fish is in winter. The popular cooking method is poaching and eating raw as sashimi.
Tobiuo, (Flying Fish in English) appear in most tropical and temperate regions in the world. There are 52 kinds of flying fish in the world, 29 of which live in the ocean surrounding Japan. As the name implies, Tobiuo are able to move their pectoral fins for about 50 times a second and they can 'fly' as fast as 40 mph (70km/h) while they are in the air. Distance wise, they are able to fly as long as a quarter mile! The meat is a white meat and contains a low percentage of fat so it has very light and delicate taste. It is a very important ingredient especially in the southern part of Japan. They use the dried Tobiuo to extract stock for miso and clear soup. At our restaurant, we frequently use, "Tobiko" which is the already seasoned and colored fish row of this fish. The season for this fish is in the summer.
Kasugodai means "spring child snapper" in Japanese, and as the name implies, it is in season in the spring. (Although spring is the best season for Kasugodai, we carry it almost year round). We usually serve the size of 3-5 inch (7-10cm) fish which is the perfect size to make sushi. We prepare this fish in "Kobujime" style which means we marinate the fish in kelp after we sprinkle some salt for about 2-3 minutes. The Kobujime will emphasis the slightest smoky flavor of the skin and the delicate taste of the kasugodai's meat while you experience the scent of ocean from the kelp.
This is one of the most unique dishes we serve here at Kanoyama. Ask any butcher and they'll tell you meat tastes best on the bone. There's a reason T-bone, Porterhouse, Spareribs and Prime Rib are some of the most delicious cuts of meat. It might sound funny, but this applies to fish, too. It is served whole; you remove the incredibly marbled flesh yourself from the bone with a spoon to dip into our bonito flavored soy sauce. After you've removed all the meat from Nakaochi, we bring it to the kitchen to grill the bones and serve them with ponzu. Grilled tuna bones truly taste like real meat such as beef or pork ribs, believe it or not! We can serve them only when we've purchased a good, in-season Blue Fin tuna, so please forgive us for the limited availability.
Although Isaki (Grunt in English) be caught year round, the best season for this fish starts when the rainy season begins in Japan and ends before the start of fall. Isaki prefer warm water and they usually live along shore lines with many rocks and other hiding places. Isaki is abundant in the southern part of Japan except for the Okinawa Islands. The meat contains a high percentage of fat even though the taste is very light and delicate, like other white fishes.
Yellowtail / Hamachi
The yellowtail is a member of the Jack fish family and are sometimes called Amberjack, through that name actually belongs to another member of the jacks. Along the Pacific coast, yellowtail range from southern California all the way south to Chile and on the other side of the Pacific from New Zealand to Japan. They can grow to 80 pounds (36kg) but are very rare over about 40 pounds (18kg). Yellowtail are truly handsome, fast and powerful. Our yellowtail come directly from Japan. This fish's season is in winter.
Red Snapper / Tai
Japanese consider Tai (Red Sea Beam) as the king of white fish. It lives throughout the waters off Japan, except in the Okinawa Islands. Scientists believe the reason why the Tai's body is so red is because they eat many shrimp. It can get as big as 4ft and lives as long as 30 years! The best season for this fish is in spring, and it comes to us directly from Japan.
Sea Urchin / Uni
Sea urchin (Uni in Japanese) is a spiny, hard-shelled animal that lives on the rocky seafloor, from shallow waters to great depths. There are about 700 different species of sea urchins worldwide. We use two types of Unis. One from California and the other from Maine. Californian sea urchin are called 'northern purple sea urchin'. They have long spines and usually are supplied boxed. They are available year-round. Maine sea urchin are called 'green sea urchin' and come to us fresh in the shell directly from our supplier. The fresh Uni season starts around October and usually ends in March.
Sea Trout
Sea Trout, also know as Weakfish, occur from Nova Scotia to Florida and are most abundant from North Carolina through Long Island. Adult weakfish are often found near the periphery of eelgrass beds, where they primarily feed on shrimp, larger zooplankton, crabs, other crustaceans and small fish. Sea Trout can reach 30 inches and live as long as 9 years. We especially recommend this fish to our Japanese customers since it is not found in Japan. The best season for this fish is in summer.
Ayu is translated in English as sweet fish or Japanese smelt, but it is not a familiar fish in the western world because it is usuallly distributed only in some parts of China, Korea and Japan. In Japan, it is one of the most common fresh water fishes eaten in summer because of its elegantly delicious meat. Ecologically, it is classified as part of the Salmon family. Like Salmon it swims down river in the fall to pass the winter in the sea, then returning upstream in spring to spawn. However, unlike most salmon, which live about 2-5 years, Ayu can only live one year during which they grows to around 10 inches. Japanese have been eating this fish for hundreds of years, therefore there are numerous unique fishing methods throughout the country. The fresh Ayu can be eaten raw (when they're really fresh, they have a scent of watermelon!) but the most popular way to eat this fish is simply grilled with salt.
Kinmedai (Golden Eye Snapper, Alfonsino) has a very distinctive look because of its large eyes and its bright red skin. Kinmedai is a deep sea fish, usually living in the range of 200 to 800 meters (650 to 2700 feet) deep in the ocean. This is the reason why this fish's eyes are enlarged; they are necessary to capture the slightest light at such depths. It grows to about 12 inches in 3 years and can grow to as much as 24 inches. Kinmedai has a long life span which is believed to be as musch as 14 years. The season for Kinmedai is in winter, from the end of December to the end of March when the tasty white meat contains a lot of fat. The fish is suitable for almost any types of cooking method such as sashimi, salt grilling, poaching, frying and steaming. At our restaurant, we cook the beautiful red skin by pouring the boiling water so that the skin will be tenderized and can be eaten together with the tasty meat.
Sanma, or mackerel pike, can be found in the northern subantarctic zone of Pacific, from Japan to the northwest of the United States. There are only 4 kinds of fish in the Sanma family around the world, and only one of them can be caught in Japan. Sanma can live only one year and grow about 40cm (16inch), after which they die after a few spawnings. Sanma swim in schools, migrating north in the beginning of summer, reaching the sea of Okhotsk around August, then heading south during the fall. Nutritionally, it is one of the few fishes that contains more fat than protein; thus it is a perfect fish for grilling. Nonethless, it is a very tasty fish served raw when it is fresh. We recommend this fish to people who prefer sardines, mackerels and bonito.
A literal translation for Mizudako is "water octopus". As the name implies, the meat contains high amounts of water, making it much tenderer than other octopi. At our restaurant, we list this octopus as "Namadako", which means "Raw Octopus", because unlike other most octopus, it arrives fresh, flown straight from the northern island of Japan, Hokkaido. We usually purchase only one leg of the octopus because the octopus itself is so large it would be impossible to sell the whole octopus in couple of business days. In fact, Mizudako is the biggest octopus in the world. It can grow up to 3 meter (10 feet)! You can eat this octopus raw or cooked, but at our restaurant, we serve it only raw, emphasizing the tenderness and freshness of its delicious meat and tentacles.
Bluefin Tuna
The bluefin tuna is the largest tuna in the ocean. It is the most expensive fish in the world and it is impossible to talk about sushi without this fish. At the Tsukiji Fish Market in Tokyo, a good bluefin tuna usually has a price tag around $50,000 to $200,000 (for one fish!).

The bluefin can live for about 40 years, and It typically grows to be about 6ft (2m) long and weighs about 300 pounds (135kg). The heaviest known are about 1,200 pounds (550kg). Our restaurant use blue fin tuna from Canada, Boston and Mediterranean. The best season for this fish is in the winter.
It is almost impossible to talk about "Edomae Sushi" (Tokyo-style sushi) without this fish.
It is not an expensive fish for sushi but perfectly marinated Kohada is called "Yokozuna of Edomae-Sushi" (King of Tokyo-style sushi) thus many sushi lovers in Tokyo says the value of sushi restaurant can be evaluated by the preparation of this fish. Kohada is in the herring family and the name of this fish changes as the fish grows just like yellowtail change the name as the size gets larger. For yellowtail, the price goes up as it grows but for Kohada it is the opposite. The smallest fish ("Shinko") is the most expensive because as it gets larger, Kohada can get very bony and hard to eat as sushi. This fish name changes from "Shinko", "Kohada", "Nagazumi" then "Konoshiro". When "shinko" is in season in early spring, it usually sells at the market price of around 1kg for 25000yen - which is about $125/pound!
Torigai literally means "bird clam" in Japanese and is derived from the appearance of the end portion of this shellfish. Torigai taste very sweet, have a tender texture and are high in protein. They come from Japan, with the season being winter and spring. Compared to other types of shellfish, Torigai grow very fast, growing 3-4 inches in two years.
Shima Aji
This fish is translated in English as "striped jack fish", as in fact, it has actually a bright yellow stripe in the middle of the body. Shima Aji normally swim in schools and they are abundant in the southern part of Japan. This fish grows as large as 1m (30 inch) and it is the most expensive fish you can find in the Jackfish family. Although Shima Aji is categorized in the Jackfish family, the taste is more similar to yellowtail (smooth and rich) than the regular jack fish. We usually recommend this fish to the customers who prefer rich-tasting fishes such as Toro, Yellowtail, or Kanpachi.
Needlefish / Sayori
Needlefish live throughout the coastline of Japan but they are mainly abundant off the southern coast of the country. The needlefish has a very unique figure because their chin is longer than their nose. Needlefish (Sayori in Japanese) are a school fish and they live in top water. They grows to about 12 inch long (30cm). The best season for this fish is spring and it comes directly from Japan.
Sardines, which people usually know in their canned form, taste delicious when served fresh as sushi. The sardine was first canned at the beginning of the 19th century when Napoleon recognized that there was a need to preserve food, and the sardine was the first fish to be preserved in oil or tomato sauce. Sardines used to be very abundant just off the coast of Sarnina, an island in the Mediterranean, hence the name sardine. In Japan, sardine live off almost every coastline. They contain some of the highest amounts of heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids in any fish. Our sardines comes from Portugal.
Jack Fish / Aji
There are about 140 members of the Jack Fish family worldwide, with about 20 kinds in Japan alone. Ma-Aji, which our restaurant uses, is the most common and popular jack fish. It lives throughout Japan but it is especially abundant in southern part of the country. It can grow up to about 15 inches (40 cm). We get it directly from Japan every week.
The Bonito is a very delicious fish and it looks almost exactly like a baby tuna. However, it is not in fact a baby tuna and taste quite different from it. They usually live in warm water and comes up to the coastline during the spring in Japan. In New York, this fish's season starts around March and ends around October. It tends to get more oilier towards the end of the season.