There are many things to see and do in Fukuoka, a city located on the island of Kyushu in Japan. For foodies, however, the place offers seemingly endless options of delicious fare. From traditional Japanese dining customs to adventurous meals, we tried it all in a span of a few days.
Yatai or food cart/stall
You can’t go to Fukuoka and not sit at a yatai, where you can rub shoulders with the locals and feast on gyoza, mentaiko (cod roe) omelette, yakitori, tempura and more. You can also get your fill of sake, soju, Japanese beer and chuhai (a fruit flavoured alcoholic drink) at a yatai. They are usually open from 6pm to 2am.
When you try akaushi beef at Kitasato Baran, not only do you get to feast on quality food, but you get a beautiful view to go with it. Akaushi beef is basically a type of wagyu beef that comes from Kumamoto, a city and prefecture in Kyushu. If you choose to dine here, you can grill the meat yourself, while enjoying the countryside view.
Kawara soba and sushi
Kawara soba or “tile” soba is a gourmet dish created in Shimonoseki. The first thing you’ll notice is what the green tea soba noodles are served and cooked on – a hot roof tile! The noodles are topped with strips of egg omelette and beef, with lemon and momijioroshi (radish and red pepper). Because the tiles are so hot, the soba might have a crunchy texture when you eat it. It is served with assorted sushi for a match made in heaven.
Even an adventurous gourmand might be hesitant to take on this challenge because fugu is highly poisonous and must be prepared skilfully. For someone who is not so adventurous when it comes to food, I actually liked this. Our dinner comprised fugu prepared and cooked in different ways – sashimi, karaage (deep fried), yubiki (boiled), tecchiri (hotpot) and sushi. There’s also a hot sake with fugu fin, or hiresake, that you can try.
Local dishes at Kumamoto
If you’ve ever been hungry enough to eat a horse, here is your chance. At Aoyagi in Kumamoto, you can try a sukiyaki dish featuring horse meat. Just dip the cooked horse meat in raw egg and eat it. Your meal also comes with appetisers, rice, soup and some side dishes. You may also be entertained by a traditional dancer while you dine.
In Nagasaki, lies the largest Chinatown in Japan. Chanpon or Chinese-inspired Japanese cuisine is available in the area. One of the things we tried was the chanpon ramen. It looked and tasted a little like the Malaysian lum mee and Cantonese fried yee mee. You can also find other Chinese-style dishes like sweet and sour meat, sui kow and kai tan kou (traditional steamed sponge cakes) there.
Ramen lovers can try the Hakata ramen at Kurume Taiho Ramen. The noodle dish comes in a thick, flavourful tonkotsu with egg, slices of pork, seaweed and shallots. You can also order the takana (mustard leaf) fried rice.
You can take part in a traditional Japanese tea ceremony at a tea house in the Suizenji Jojuen Park. Enjoy your drink while taking in the beautiful sights of the garden. Ice cream lovers can either have a taste of some creamy, milky goodness at Mount Aso, or something more adventurous like sea urchin ice cream at Kamon Wharf. This peach-coloured ice cream might sound a little weird but it is actually tasty!