Fukuoka has a food culture that is different from those of Tokyo, Osaka, and Kyoto. It is one of those things you have to look forward to when visiting this area. Here are five delicious specialty dishes of Fukuoka that you need to taste.
1. Tonkotsu Ramen (Hakata Ramen)
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 flavor 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 dare (ramen sauce) that is found on top of the table.
Fukuoka’s city center 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's open until 2:00 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?
1. Tonkotsu Ramen (Hakata Ramen)
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’s so good that it will surely become a habit for you. 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.
3. Karashi Mentaiko
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 (1,680 JPY), 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. Try karashi mentaiko!
3. Karashi Mentaiko
Mizutaki is a one-pot dish of chicken and vegetables that are put in soup made from chicken bones and then eaten while dipping it in ponzu sauce (citrus soy sauce). The order in which mizutaki is eaten is rather unique. First, put the soup stock and spring onions in the pot and taste it, though even the way you should taste it differs by restaurant. Next, add the vegetables one by one. Note that each restaurant uses its own soup base and ingredients, as well as special ponzu for dipping. After you have eaten all the ingredients, you put rice into the pot to make rice porridge to make a softer kind of risotto, and then finish off the meal by eating that rice together with the delicious soup base. While there are so many restaurants serving mizutaki in Fukuoka, Toritden is one that is particularly famous. At this restaurant, the Toriden special golden ponzu and the specialty spices used in the soup bring out the delicious taste of meat. Mizutaki also goes well with Japanese sake, wine or champagne, so enjoy!
Blessed by the Genkai Sea that is one of the world’s leading fishing grounds, Fukuoka is home to a host of shops where you can eat fresh and delicious seafood. Of these restaurants, the Fukuoka Kaisen Sakaba HAKATA HOUSE, which is operated by the fish specialist Fukuoka-shi Gyogyo Kyodo Kumiai, is recommended. It is under the direct control of the fishing industry union, so you can eat fresh seafood at reasonable prices here! The biggest hit Buttagiri Kaisendon (880 JPY) and the day’s fresh sashimi are definitely recommended, but note that this restaurant has an extensive menu that also includes paella and tuna hamburger, as well as utilizing various cooking methods. Even people who like seafood but hate eating it raw can enjoy eating at this restaurant. The kind of sashimi they serve changes according to the fish in season that are delivered by fishermen for the day, so you can look forward in excitement as to what you will get to eat on the day you come. Check with them when you get there. Now although this restaurant is a little far from the busy downtown, you still have to come visit!
Did you find anything you like? This article features specialty dishes loved by locals, so it would be a waste if you do not get to try them when you go to Fukuoka.
*Please note that the information in this article is from the time of writing or publication and may differ from the latest information.