Apparently sea cucumbers are quite a delicacy in many Asian countries. I was wondering if anyone knows of good places to try konoko (dried sea cucumber gonads) and konowata (salted intestines) in Japan, or if there are good places to purchase them?
Konoko (more commonly kuchiko) and konowata are both examples of chinmi, strong-tasting delicacies intended to be eaten in small quantities as an accompaniment to liquor. There thus aren't any restaurants that specialize in them, they're more the kind of thing you will (or will not) find on a rotating menu of today's specials. But here is one random manufacturer, Kikumoto, which makes and sells both online, from ¥1800:
(Yum yum! Konowata on the left, konoko on the right. Publicity photo courtesy of Kikumoto.)
And a personal note: I consider myself a reasonably adventurous eater, but konowata holds my record for being the most disgusting thing I have ever had the misfortune of sampling: merely licking the tip of a chopstick was enough to trigger the gag reflex. Many Western travellers to Japan have the same reaction to most types of shiokara, the class of fermented fish gut pickles that both konowata and kuchiko exemplify.