As one of the closest cities to the Asian mainland, Fukuoka has developed a unique and interesting food culture that has been influenced by Korean and Chinese cuisine. Some Fukuoka dishes, such as Hakata Ramen and Motsunabe, have swept Japan by storm and become widely popular across the country.
Anyone would do right to try these dishes on their home turf, and the local specialties are probably best sampled at one of the popular yatai food stalls found around the city. But there are also countless atmospheric restaurants in Fukuoka especially around downtown Tenjin, the Nakasu entertainment district and Hakata Station where some nice restaurants are located on the upper dining floors of the station building.
Anyway, let’s take a look at a list of some of the top local specialties in Fukuoka!
If you talk about ramen in Fukuoka, no other ramen would come to mind than tonkotsu ramen, which is characterized by its milk-white soup made with pork bones and its fine noodles. You can choose the hardness of the noodles when you order this ramen, but people generally prefer hard noodles boiled for 10 seconds. In order of hardness, the noodles available for tonkotsu ramen are hard, regular, and soft. Large helpings of noodles are not served here, as customers only have to say “kaedama” (second serving of a ball of noodles) to get some more noodles to be put in the remaining soup in the bowl. You can even change the hardness of the noodles then. But the flavour of the soup becomes thin towards the end when you order for kaedama a few times, so you have to adjust the taste of your ramen by adding the ramen sauce that is found on top of the table.
Fukuoka’s city centre is a fierce battleground among restaurants that serve delicious ramen. Of the restaurants in that battleground, Isshin-Furan Daimyo Honten, which has captured the hearts of many fans with its special soup that is available only to about a dozen people at a time, is particularly recommended. The soup does not use lard, so you will be able to finish it off quickly. You can also bring your family here without any worries. Since it is open until 2 am on weekdays and Saturdays, you can come here for some ramen after drinking. Fukuoka is home to many delicious ramen shops, so why not try and compare them to find which one you like best?
Motsunabe, Fukuoka’s local dish, is a boiled pot of motsu (offal) of cows and pigs filled with leek, cabbage, and bean sprouts and then flavored with soy sauce and miso. You can finish off the soup by putting noodles into it. Motsunabe is a high-protein, low-calorie dish with high nutritional value that is packed with vitamins. It is also popular among women thanks to its significant collagen content. It even goes well with alcohol, so enjoy this dish up to the noodles toward the end while drinking with your friends at night. The vegetables become sweeter with the tasty soup made from the offal, so you can also eat a lot of vegetables.
Oishi, the famous reservation-only motsunabe restaurant in the area, is known for the rich and deep miso taste of its soup. It is a local custom to eat motsunabe in winter, of course, but residents here eat this dish even on hot summer days while they sweat. There are many motsunabe restaurants in Fukuoka, so find one to your liking.
Karashi mentaiko, which is pollack roe soaked in red peppers and sauce, is eaten together with rice or added to such dishes as pasta. While the name bears the term “karashi” (chili), it is not extremely hot, but has a distinct spiciness that comes from the depth and flavor of the sauce used in soaking the roe. Many shops sell karashi mentaiko in Fukuoka, and most Fukuoka residents have their preferred shops.
But while there are numerous shops where you can purchase karashi mentaiko to go, there are surprisingly just a few where you can eat a meal using it. Now if you want to eat karashi mentaiko, Ganso Hakata Mentaiju, Fukuoka’s first shop dedicated to mentaiko, is the place to go. Try the Mentaiju, the dish named after the shop, for a serving of rice that is topped with konbumaki mentaiko (cod roe wrapped in seaweed) that has been marinated for a long time. With the perfect match of the rich taste of cod roe and the seaweed rice, you would find yourself emptying your bowl rather quickly. You can choose the spiciness of the cod roe between regular and spicy.