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Adeline, travel consultant and former Kyushu resident, shares her favourite ways to fill up in the foodie hub of Fukuoka.
Fukuoka, the largest city on the southern island of Kyushu, is famous for its food. From the freshest seafood to grilled mochi, this is where the Japanese go to eat. After living for almost 4 years in Fukuoka (and picking the brains of our Fukuoka-based tour leader, Ben!), I feel confident in recommending these as the 5 best food experiences in Fukuoka:
1. Dinner and drinks in Daimyo
The trendy neighbourhood of Daimyo, just next to downtown Fukuoka, is the place to go out. Start your evening with dinner at Chikae (photographed); most of the restaurant is taken up by huge fish tanks, and you can watch the cooks selecting live fish to prepare as soon as its been ordered.
After filling up on fresh sashimi and tempura, head out into the narrow, crowded streets of Daimyo for a drink. There are dozens of sake bars, most with only a of couple tables, or just standing room along the bar. If you need a pick-me-up at the end of the night, stop in to Ippudo for a hearty bowl of Hakata Ramen before catching the last train back to your hotel.
2. Oyster Bars in Itoshima
Ready for a road trip? About 30 minutes west of the city by car is Fukuoka’s weekend beach hangout, Itoshima. In the summer, join locals at cafés and on the sand; in the winter, a great weekend afternoon involves a trip to an oceanside oyster hut. Arrive early and be ready to eat. Oysters are sold by the kilo and diners, protected by a plastic jacket, are in charge of grilling their own lunch. Grill oysters with the flat side up; when the oysters open (sometimes quite violently), they’re ready to be eaten.
3. Nishijin Shotengai
Located above the Nishijin subway entrance on the main airport line, this pedestrian-friendly street is home to coffee shops, flower sellers, and tons of food! Try to resist temptation as you make your way a few blocks down the street to Hatsuki.
Take your shoes off as you enter, place them in a small wooden locker, and let yourself be led upstairs to your own private dining room for Fukuoka’s speciality, motsunabe. Everyone in your group will be cooking and sharing food from one large pot in the centre of the table, which will be filled with delicious broth and topped up with meat, vegetables, and – if you have room at the end of the meal – noodles.
4. Grilled Mochi
Just 30 minutes by train from downtown Fukuoka is the prefecture’s cultural heart, Dazaifu. But before you even arrive at the biggest shrine, Dazaifu Tenmangu, you’ll pass a plethora of tiny shops selling the local specialty, grilled mochi. If you haven’t experienced mochi (rice cakes), a chewy shell made of rice envelopes a center of sweet bean paste. The grilled version is warm and slightly crispy on the outside. In a word, perfect.
5. Kurume Yakitori Festival
Kurume is a small city in Fukuoka Prefecture known for its grilled meat and vegetables, or yakitori. The Yakitori Festival, held in September every year, allows visitors to sample the best offerings from around Kurume City, all in one small, smoky park.Come early to stake out your table space, then line up at each stall to pay 200-300 yen per stick of grilled goodness. The revelry continues well into the evening, even after the stalls finish up around 8pm.
Your gastronomic adventure in Fukuoka awaits! All you need is one handy Japanese word, betsubara (or dessert stomach). Eat your way around lesser-visited Kyushu island (including the tasty city of Fukuoka) on our Kyushu Adventure self-guided trip or Kyushu Elements Small Group Tour.