Top 10 Eats in FUKUOKA

Japan is most certainly one of our favorite places on earth and so my hubby and I decided to make it a tradition since we discovered Osaka 3 years ago to do a JAPAN FOOD TRIP at least once a year. Last year we went twice (Osaka and Tokyo) and this time it was to discover the culinary wonders of FUKUOKA.

It was our first time to explore this city so I was excited and giddy as you can imagine. We arrived at the city around 8 pm and we were determined to start our Food Trip the moment we got our of the airport. With our luggages in tow, we rode the airport shuttle which brought us to the subway station where we navigated our way to the Hakata Station where we set-off to find some Yatai Stalls.  It wasn't as easy to find as we thought, it took us about 45 minutes of walking and a whole lot of asking help from locals before we finally found the strip.

Yatai stalls are open air food stands that are the city's best known symbol. Each stall can fit just about 7-8 people where you enjoy an al fresco dining experience by the water. My first three entries can be found in the Yatai Stalls located along the Canal City area.

Here it goes;

The main characteristic of HAKATA Ramen is the thick white soup made from pork bones (called Tonkotsu). The noodles are slightly thinner than the usual ramen and the toppings are quite simple; cha-su (pork), chopped scallions, thinly sliced mushrooms and some sesame seeds. The red pickled ginger is also optional and is served on the side.

Oden is a Japanese hotpot dish in which ingredients are slowly simmered in a soy sauce soup base. You can vary different ingredients but the usual ones are daikon radish, boiled eggs, fish cakes, etc. I tried the fishcake and tofu and loved it especially with the touch of spicy yellow mustard.

Yakitori is also a must when you try theYatai Foodstalls. These sticks taste best with a nice and cold asahi! It's always a great combination.

Why are little tart's so addicting? First it's the PASTRY: it is tempered and baked TWICE which gives it a crunchy bite with the outer shell slightly overbaked to add to the texture. Next is the CREAM CHEESE FILLING that's creamy but at the same time light and airy. It's a delightful contrast to the firm and crunchy crust. Lastly is that they are FRESHLY BAKED and they stress this because the ladies selling and packing them are all wearing shirts stating this. You go into the store and while patiently waiting in line (there's ALWAYS a line at least in the Tenjin Branch which we visited thrice!) you see non-stop action from their bakers continuously putting out batches and batches of freshly baked ones from their oven. For me, it is best eaten at room temperature but you can enjoy them chilled or heated as well. The cheese aroma that wafts out from them is heavenly. That's why we had to go back three times for it during our trip! Take note that they limit only 12 pieces maximum per person per visit! :)

 Mentaiko is the marinated roe of pollock and cod. It has a very delicate, creamy, salty taste and flavor. The spicy variety of mentaiko is product of Fukuoka so I really made sure to try this and bring some home so I can whip into a pasta sauce with some butter! Ah! Just thinking about this makes my mouth water. 

Since I fell in love with Mentaiko, this is the next best thing. I found this on an artisan bakeshop inside Parco Mall (again just by chance since I'm always in the lookout for food!). Freshly baked Baguette with a generous spread of mentaiko and butter. The

Ive had a lot of of Ramen in my life and I must admit that this is possibly one of THE best ramens I have ever had.  CLICK HERE to find out how I dissected it to be the BEST RAMEN I've ever tasted. You will thank me for it!

Our good friend and local from Osaka Kuniyoshi recommended this place. He said that we cannot leave Fukuoka without trying UNAGI.

If you love the REAL strong taste of green tea and not the milked down and toned down one, try this brand and you won't be disappointed! ;)

You cannot leave Japan without stuffing yourself with sushi and sashimi... And that's exactly what we did! Toro and Hamachi are my favorites followed by Uni and Hotate. You don't have to look far to find good and fresh seafood in Fukuoka. For instance, the picture above is from the main Mitsukoshi supermarket in Tenjin where they have a huge section of fresh sashimi and sushi for a very reasonable price. You can grab a few boxes and either take it home or enjoy it there on the tables they have at the center. The hubby and I had sushi for lunch every single day we were there....no kidding! hahaha!

There you have it folks! My top 10 for this Fukuoka Trip! Feel free to tag me in your food trip and food discoveries in Fukuoka. I would love to hear from all of you!

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RAMEN IN A BOX (well technically a "jubako" which is a special Japanese lunch box). It was only by chance that we discovered Ichiran at Canal City Fukuoka. It was not in my "must-try" list but boy was I so happy that we stumpled upon it. It is arguably the BEST RAMEN I've ever had. And this is huge because I have had tried a lot of RAMEN having gone to Osaka twice already and Tokyo too plus ofcourse the myriad ramen spots in Manila. 

Ok, ok...Before the ramen fanatics freak out on me, let me explain why and give my argument by breaking everything down;

1. BROTH. The broth is rich but not overpowering. It does not leave you with that heavy oily feeling which I experience with a lot of ramen.  You can taste how delicately it's been simmered, strained and degreased therefore giving it a surprisingly clean taste. Sorry for being technical but that's my chef background coming out.

2. KAEDAMA NOODLES REFILL. Their homemade fresh noodles are made from their unique blend of flour which is then cooked in special filtered water which gives it an added flavor. They have a silky and firm texture which I really like. Kaedama is Hakata's way to order extra noodles when you finish your serving and still have broth left. To prevent the noodles from expanding, they made this system where you can order just when you finish your initial noodle serving to make sure the additional noodles remain firm. tip : I always always order mine EXTRA FIRM. 

3. SPECIAL RED SAUCE. They have a special red pepper based sauce which is believed to be made up of 30 different spices that have been aged and cooked slowly that they put on the middle of the broth. You gently mix it into the soup when it is served. I usually just order mine mild and not too spicy because I don't want to overpower the taste of the broth. 

5. *** OSUKARAN VINEGAR. I believe this is the biggest differentiating factor. The use of this special Osurkaran vinegar makes the world of difference in terms of deepening the flavor of the broth. This option is unique to the Canal City branch. The hint of sourness from the vinegar, so subtle yet adds to much complexity to the flavor. Nothing like I've ever had. 

5. EXPERIENCE. The process of enjoying this ramen also adds to greatness of the experience. You order through a machine, get your ticket and go straight into a personal booth. You will not see any face but a small window will open in front of you and you just present your coupon and wait. When ordering your kaedama (extra noodles serving) you also just have to press the button. Because you are locked up on that little booth, you get to really concentrate and focus on your RAMEN and enjoy every slurp! 

Convinced already that it's the BEST?  Try it out yourself and be the judge. Bookmark this post for your next Fukuoka adventure. You will thank me for it!

Slurp away!