Alien Dumplings – A Downright Scary-Looking Dish

The world is full of unappetizing dishes, from fermented fish dishes to the dreaded Kiviaq, but few actually look scary to get near to, let alone put in your mouth. These Japanese dumplings definitely fall in the latter category.

Last year, we published a story on one of the world’s most bizarre looking fish, the eel-like Warusobo, also known as the “Alien of the Ariake Sea“. One look at this slimy creature, and that nickname makes all the sense in the world. I don’t know if it’s those pointy teeth, or the lack of eyes, but there’s just something otherworldly about these things. That’s hasn’t stopped the people of Saga Prefecture, which borders the Ariake Sea, from turning the alien creature into a staple of local cuisine, including the delicious dumplings below.

As we mentioned in our previous article on the warusobo fish, it can be consumed either grilled or dried, whole or in powdered form, as the main ingredient of a hearty soup, or as extra flavoring in a cup of hot sake. But we didn’t know it could be used as the centerpiece of a dumpling dish known as “Ariake Dumplings”.

Introduced in 2017, as a promotional collaboration between the Saga prefectural government and Tokyo-based restaurant 蔓餃苑 (Dumpling Kingdom), Ariake dumplings got a lot of attention online at the time, due to their unusual appearance. They consist of traditional dumplings with the xenomorph-like fried or boiled heads of warusobo fish sticking out of them. They are quite a feast for the eyes…

According to Asahi, Ariake dumplings were served for a limited time at Dumpling Kingdom, but you can most likely find them at restaurants around Saga Prefecture as well. After all, the warusobo fish is very popular around those parts.


For more strange-looking sea creatures, check out this fish that looks like a real-life Picasso painting.