The Dish: “Suppon” or soft-shell turtle soup with scallions, mochi, and mizuna (Japanese greens)
Where to Get It: Sushi Taro, 1503 17th St. NW; (202) 462-8999; sushitaro.com
Price: $30 à la carte (not listed as an à la carte option, but available upon request), or $90 per person as part of the tasting menu.
What It Is: A steaming bowl of turtle soup that has two chunks of dark, golf ball–sized meat. (No shell included.) Soft-shell turtles can be found at Chinese markets, and turtle meat is considered a rich Japanese delicacy.
What It Tastes Like: The turtle is soft, chewy, and mild in flavor. Watch out for the occasional turtle bone, and consider bringing dental floss for the stringy pieces of meat that get stuck between your teeth.
The Story: Eat this before you want to get it on. According to the menu description, the soup promotes sexual virility in men and possesses other medicinal qualities. Turtle is a collagen-rich meat, and women typically eat it for lusher lips and more beautiful skin. It’s also a soup with a lot of history. Soft-shell snapping turtles were served to Chinese emperors and royalty as far back as the 1st century.
How to Eat It: Slurp slowly. It comes steaming hot over a clay dish filled with charcoal embers. Be sure to spoon a few pieces of mochi and vegetables into your bowl. And there’s no shame in finishing off the leftover broth. The combination of sake, ginger, soy sauce, and kelp makes for a salty, slightly briny drink.
Photo by Laura Hayes