Hakata is characterized by the yatai food stalls that dot the streets at night. Tonkotsu ramen and fried ramen are famous nationwide as "yatai gourmet" items. The yatai staff are friendly and an evening with them is sure to result in wonderful memories from your travels. Here are five recommended yatai in Hakata.
This is the yatai that invented "yaki ramen" (fried ramen), one of the specialties of Fukuoka ramen. It's in a great location, near the Hakata shopping area of Tenjin. Yaki ramen (700 JPY (incl. tax)) is made by frying pork, vegetables and ramen noodles on a grill, flavoring them with tonkotsu pork-based soup and a special sauce, and drizzling them with sauce from doteyaki simmered beef tendons. It is an outstanding dish that has a texture and scent that stimulate the appetite! It's also known to go well with sake. The seats at Kokin-chan are around a U-shaped counter surrounding the grill and there, you'll experience a typical Hakata yatai scene with customers ordering à la carte dishes, grilled food, and ramen while having lively conversations with the staff.
*The images are for illustrative purposes only
Yatai Donryu is in Nakasu, an area with many yatai. It is a yatai that has many regulars thanks to the personality of the woman that owns it. The ramen (700 JPY (incl. tax)) is a tonkotsu ramen. The noodles are firm, and the milky white soup is surprisingly light but deep. It comes with plenty of cloud ear mushrooms and green onions. It's popular as a ramen that is perfect as a last meal after drinking. The yatai also offers a full range of items that go well with sake, such as the flavorful oden (500 JPY for 3 pieces (incl. tax)) and and kushiyaki skewers. It has a welcoming atmosphere, and is popular not only among the locals, but with tourists as well.
*Image is for illustration purposes
2. Yatai Donryu
Yamachan is a famous Hakata yatai ramen shop. It's Nagahama tonkotsu ramen (650 JPY (incl. tax)) has the super-fine noodles characteristic of Nagahama ramen. Its rich tonkotsu soup is superb and even in Nakasu, with its many yatai, Yamachan is one that always has a line. You can also enjoy yaki ramen (900 JPY (incl. tax)) here. This is also popular for the fragrant fried noodles and the rich aroma of the pork bones. It is widely appreciated for the flavor of its crispy noodles and the crunchy vegetables. There are many visitors from abroad, so expect to enjoy conversations with an international flavor here.
Tomochan is a long-established yatai near Tenjin Station beloved by the locals. Its tonkotsu ramen (600 JPY, incl. tax) has plenty of char siu pork and chopped green onions on it, but is on the small side so is perfect as a closing dish for the night. There are many regulars who swear that it is the way tonkotsu ramen should taste. Tomochan's oden and charcoal grilled meats and seafood that go well with sake are also popular. They displays their fresh ingredients in a case, and the roasted mentaiko cod roe and the Gyu Sagari beef are popular among tourists. It has a welcoming atmosphere, and the friendly conversations among customers and between customers and the staff add to the yatai's charm.
Gyu Sagari Beef
The yatai area in Nakasu remains bright well into the night with lively sounds of laughter and cooking and mouthwatering scents. The soup for Yamako's tonkotsu ramen doesn't have the oiliness of pork bones and is light yet rich. It is served with a colorful variety of toppings, including char siu pork, ginger, cloud ear mushrooms, and green onions, that whet the appetite. Customers can designate the firmness of their noodles. Yamako has a sleek menu, partly because the owner was previously a chef of a type of Western-influenced Japanese cuisine. The menu includes grilled eggplants with mentaiko cod roe and cheese (900 JPY (incl. tax)), salt-grilled scallops, and chicken-skin gyoza. It has a cozy feel and even if you go alone, you'll be able to enjoy a conversation with the owner.
Grilled Eggplants with Mentaiko Cod Roe and Cheese
There are approximately 150 of the yatai that are a Fukuoka specialty. The main spots for them are the Tenjin, Nakasu, and Nagahama areas. They offer a variety of cuisines, including specialties such as tonkotsu ramen, as well as a range of food that go with sake such as oden and grilled meat. The interactions between people at yatai are special. We strongly encourage you to stop by!
*Please note that the information in this article is from the time of writing or publication and may differ from the latest information.