Wholesalers browse aisles of frozen tuna at traditional Tokyo New Years auction on January 5, 2022Philip FONG
A 211 kg tuna at 129,000 euros: the traditional New Year’s sale in Tokyo was won on Wednesday by a Michelin-starred chef who intends to “brighten up” 2022 with this specimen, even if the prices remain far from the record of 2019, crisis health requires.
The amount paid at the first auction of the year at the Toyusu fish market fell for the third year in a row, with the pandemic still affecting demand.
The 16.9 million yen disbursed jointly Wednesday by a restaurateur and a wholesaler for a huge bluefin tuna was well below the record of 2019, when the prized fish had been carried away for more than 333 million yen.
The first auction of the year at Toyosu Market is a long-standing tradition in Japan, which attracts a horde of fish wholesalers and restaurateurs each year.
Bidders sometimes spend a fortune to win the most expensive tuna, which is considered a good luck charm and generates strong publicity around the buyer.
The tuna bought on Wednesday was fished in the Aomori region (northern Japan), renowned for the quality of its tuna, and was sold to Onodera Group, a Michelin-starred sushi restaurant, and Yamayuki, a Japanese wholesaler. .
Hours later, the award-winning fish was delivered to a restaurant run by Onodera in Tokyo’s upscale Omotesando neighborhood to be publicly sliced and filleted.
“I took part in the auction in the hope of getting the most expensive tuna, which is considered auspicious, and serving it to our customers to brighten up their year to come a bit, even though our world remains. marked by the pandemic, “Chief Akifumi Sakagami told AFP.
The more expensive tuna will be offered to customers both in Japan and at the company’s restaurants overseas, including Hawaii, New York and Los Angeles, he added.
Sushi lovers have gathered outside Tokyo’s upscale restaurant to wait for the coveted fish. “I love tuna,” said Junko Kawabata, 78, proudly showing a numbered ticket stating she would be the first customer to be served. “I can’t wait for a bite to eat.”