A deep-pocketed restaurateur has paid more than 700.000 dollars for a tuna at Japan's Tsukiji fish market, smashing the record for a single blue-fin. Bidding on the 269kg fish, caught off the coast of Japan's northern Aomori prefecture, stood at an eye-popping 711.864 dollars when the hammer came down in the first auction of the year.
The figure dwarfs the previous high of 32.49 million Yen paid at last year's inaugural auction at Tsukiji, a huge working market that features on many Tokyo tourist itineraries.
Thursday's winning bidder was Kiyoshi Kimura, president of the company that runs the popular Sushi-Zanmai chain.
At about Y210.000 (2.646 dollars) per kilogram, a single slice of sushi could cost as much as Y5.000 (63.01 dollars), but the company plans to sell it at a more regular price of up to Y418 (5.27 dollars), local media reported.
The flesh is coloured in magnificent red and the quality of fat is very good, Kimura said. It is very delicious. The taste is unbeatable.
A Hong Kong sushi restaurant owner bought the previous year's record tuna, and Kimura added: I wanted to win the best tuna so that Japanese customers, not overseas, can enjoy it.
Blue-fin is usually the most expensive fish available at Tsukiji.
Decades of overfishing have seen global tuna stocks crash, leading some Western nations to call for a ban on catching endangered Atlantic blue-fin tuna.
Japan consumes three-quarters of the global catch of blue-fin, a highly prized sushi ingredient known in Japan as kuro maguro (black tuna) and dubbed by sushi connoisseurs the black diamond because of its scarcity.