When you think of Fukuoka, what is the first thing that comes to your mind? Yup, Ramen!!!
Fukuoka is home to one of the best ramens you can ever taste in Japan, the birthplace of the tonkotsu (hakata) style ramen, known for its milky-white pork bone broth goodness that we are most familiar with in Manila.
But the Kyushu region has much more cultural and gastronomical feasts to offer. Situated in Japan’s third-largest island and close to Korea and China, Fukuoka has developed a unique interesting culture that has been influenced by Korean and Chinese cuisine.
These local specialties are probably best sampled at popular yatai street food stalls found around the city. Here are our top recommendations…
1. EAT A BOWL OF HAKATA STYLE RAMEN
First things first, Fukuoka is a city famed for having the best ramen! So it’s no surprise that this was the first thing I ate upon arrival!
Attention ICHIRAN fans! Did you know that the Ichiran ramen in Fukuoka tastes different from its counterparts? Yup! The broth here is sweeter and milkier! “Sobrang sarap!” I just had to eat here twice on my trip! Be your own judge and see if you agree!
Fukuoka is the birthplace of Ichiran and also the tonkotsu (hakata) style ramen! Throughout Kyushu, you’ll find hakata style ramen paired with handmade noodles and generous servings of char siu pork slices!
Price: JPY 930
Look! This is the Ichiran Headquarters Fukuoka that also happens to have a museum inside.
If you’re a ramen fan, one of the must-see destinations is the Ramen Stadium located in Canal City Shopping Mall. It carries eight famous ramen stalls that serve different ramen styles. Each stall has a vending machine at the entrance from which you order your meal. Don’t forget your receipt and change. The receipt is your meal ticket.
Fill your bellies with this heartwarming dish…
Don’t miss the fountain show—different songs and projected light displays accompanied by water jets programmed to dance to the music—that begins every hour in Canal City by the arena-like Center Walk. As an otaku, of course, I was excited to see the One Piece projected show, but to my disappointment, they already changed the program to Neon Genesis Evangelion. Don’t get me wrong, the show was very good; it was just that I was expecting to see One Piece. :'(
2. MENTAIKO (Spicy Marinated Cod Roe)
Besides ramen, Fukuoka prides itself for its high quality and incredible fresh karashi mentaiko (spicy marinated cod roe), considered to be top of the class.
Freshly produced in Fukuoka, the flavourful condiment has a distinct spicy, salty and umami characteristic that comes from the depth and flavor of the sauce used in soaking the roe. It’s a favorite local “pulutan” dish often paired with a glass of cold beer or used to enhance the taste of staple meals like rice and pasta. Mentaiko is greatly influenced by Korea and is found everywhere around the city—offered as breakfast staples in buffets and as 7-eleven onigiri balls, or served raw and lightly seared in yatai food stalls and izakayas.
Hitsumabushi is an unagi dish similar to unadon but eaten in a very different way. There are three ways to eat this dish that even some Japanese locals don’t even know how to eat it. We visited a restaurant Hita Yoroduya in Mamedamachi serving this local specialty. Their version of eel was cooked over charcoal. It had a deep umami taste, and the sweetness of the rice made each bite incredibly flavorful.
To properly eat this dish, divide your plate into four parts.
-The first part is eaten as is. You can enjoy the sweetness and depth of flavor of the unadon.
-The second part is to get one of the four sides and place it in a bowl. Mix the eel and other condiments including wasabi and green onions with the rice.
-The third way is to get another part into the bowl. Pour the soup that is lightly-flavored dashi broth and enjoy.
These three ways of eating unagi add different dimensions to one’s simple dish. However, you can eat the dish whichever way you like, and you can even add the extra unagi sauce that comes with it.
5. TETSUNABE GYOZA
Gyoza are pan-fried Chinese style dumplings stuffed with a mixture of ground pork, cabbage and green onions. In Fukuoka, these dumplings are often served in large batches on ceramic or hot iron plates.
The Fukuoka/Hakata style can be found in many gyoza specialty shops, sometimes even paired as a side order when eating ramen.
6. MIZUTAKI (Chicken Hot Pot)
Fukuoka style hot pot, Mizutaki is a one-pot dish of chicken and vegetables that are put in soup made from chicken bones.
There’s a way locals consume the dish. You eat the chicken by dipping it in ponzu sauce (citrus soy sauce). After you have eaten all the ingredients, you put rice into the pot to make rice porridge and finish the meal with a delicious soup base.
Price: Set Menu JPY 1580
Another popular dish that I hope to try next time is the Motsunabe, also a type hotpot typically filled with beef or pork tripe, peppers, cabbage, chives and garlic in a soy sauce/miso based soup.
PERSIMMON PICKING (FUKUOKA)
Fukuoka Prefecture is a leading fruit-producing prefecture in Japan, boasting bountiful orchards and huge volumes of persimmon, kiwis, strawberries and grapes.
Our group went to Migita Orchard located in Kurume city’s Tanushimaru-cho, home to a thriving fruit-growing industry.
September to December is the best time to pick those bright orange persimmons. Entrance is free while the fruit is sold by weight (800 yen and up for one kilogram), so be sure to pick only the right amount you’d like to take home with you.
HOW TO GET THERE:
Cebu Pacific flies daily between Manila and Fukuoka, Japan with fares starting at P3,288!
Book Here: http://bit.ly/CEBxourawesomeplanet
Book Here: http://bit.ly/CEBxourawesomeplanet
Live an Awesome Life,
ABI of Team Our Awesome Planet
Disclosure: We were media guests of Cebu Pacific Airlines and Strategic Works, Inc. I wrote this article with my biases, opinions and insights.