Fri, Jan 06, 2012 - Page 10 News List

Sushi chain pays top yen for first New Year tuna

Bloomberg

Kiyoshi Kimura, left, president of the company operating the Sushi-Zanmai chain, holds a long knife yesterday after cutting the head off a record-setting bluefin tuna in Tokyo, Japan. Kimura was the winning bidder of the 269kg bluefin tuna, which was sold for a record ¥56.49 million at the first auction of the year at Tokyo’s Tsukiji fish market.

Photo: EPA

Kiyomura KK, a Tokyo-based sushi chain operator, paid a record ¥56 million (US$730,000) for a frozen whole tuna, the first Japan-based winner of the New Year auction at the capital’s main fish market in four years.

The 269kg fish was sold to Kiyomura at the auction in Tsukiji yesterday in the year’s first bidding session, said Hiroshi Umehara, a spokesman for the company, which runs the Sushizanmai chain of 46 restaurants across Japan.

“We really wanted to provide good tuna to the locals because foreign companies have been outbidding us for the tuna in the past three years,” Umehara said. “We don’t think this is a proper price.”

The fish, caught off the coast of Japan’s northern Aomori Prefecture, will be cut into about 10,000 pieces of sushi, according to Umehara, making the average cost for each ¥5,649.

The price for the first tuna of the year, touted as an auspicious prize, also comes to ¥210,000 per kilogram, compared with the ¥14,962 per kilogram highest price paid for Thursday and the ¥26,932 maximum on Friday.

The tuna offered at the first auction of the year over the past 15 years at the Tsukiji fish market sold for an average ¥11.8 million, according to the Tokyo Metropolitan Central Wholesale Market Web site.

The previous record price was set last year at ¥32.5 million, the market’s data show.

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