Last minute tips for Japan: Fukuoka and Kurashiki?
J-trip: eight days and counting. Fukuoka, and one night in ryokan in Kurashiki added in. Any houndly tips for either place, with two 14 yr. olds worked into the budget (i.e., NOT ultra-cool kaseki served by Zen monks at 500000Y per person!) and spouse and one of 14 yr. olds don't eat mammals?
The izakaya called Chanto in Canal City is usually good. Try their "king of kimchee" if you get a chance - it's a big ball of kimchee stuffed with marinated seafood. 092-263-2600
Also in Canal City is a place called "Ramen Stadium" which might be interesting if you happen to be there on your own (since just about all Kyushu ramen is served with pork broth). And there are dozens of other restaurants in the complex to choose from, plus a lot of youth-oriented shopping, game centers, etc.
If you want to do more exploring, Fukuoka Now magazine (linked below) has restaurant information in English.
The link below is my post on Okayama city from a year ago. Okayama is a 20-minute train ride away from Kurashiki, so if you're swayed by my post to go to any of these places, it's not a difficult commute. In that post, I wrote about a yoshoku (Japanese western style cuisine) as well as a tofu/vegetarian place that you might find interesting. I still have my Okayama guide, which includes Kurashiki, so I'll go through it and try to post some restaurant names and numbers in the next couple days.
re: Eric Eto
Hope I'm not too late for you to get this info. Here's what I culled from my foodie book on Kurashiki.
Higashi-da, Achi 2-2-8, 086-427-2248 -- traditional Japanese as well as sushi. Omakase sushi for around 5000yen. Anago oshizushi is a specialty.
Kikuzushi, Achi 3-20-29, 086-424-5494
Kushifuku Achi 2-3-26, 086-421-2929 --Kushiage specialist
Misokatsu Umenoki, Achi 2-19-3, 086-422-1282 Misokatsu specialist.
Hamadaya, Achi 2-2-6, 086-422-1198, tonkatsu restaurant
Kappa, Achi 2-17-2, 086-422-0440, tonkatsu restaurant
Hide, Achi 1-14-14, 086-427-3344
Kinpei, Achi 3-1-9, 086-422-5350
Takataya, Honmachi 11-36, 086-425-9262
Ryukyuno Kaze Hateruma, Chuo 1-14-7, 086-430-0355
Bichyu Soba Yabu, Honmachi 5-30, 086-422-1386
Azumi Soba, Chuo 1-1-8, 086-422-8970
Sakura, Honmachi 10-6, 086-421-5888
Futaba, Tsurugata 1-4-1-112, 086-425-2981
Hachimanryo, Funaguracho 1251, 086-426-8006
La Cinetta, Funaguracho 1700, 086-434-3069 Believe it or not, there's really good pizza in Kurashiki. My friends from Okayama go out of their way to this place to get neopolitan style pizza. It's one of the better pizzas I've had, in the US, Italy, or Japan. Really.
I just returned 2-7-2005 from 8 days, mostly in northern Kyushu. Away from my desk, eating simple Japanese food, I lost 10 pounds.
I have no restaurants to recommend. I generally went into simple places and ordered donburri, which is a bowl of noodles with other stuff, like a raw egg, pork or fish. Very tasty and filling for 4,000 to 5,000 yen. I do recall, now that I think about it, in the mall under the train station in Fukuoka, in the very back corner (NW?) such a noodle shop. I got to it by walking out of the bento and fresh food section of fancy department store, walking past a bar and around a corner.
If you happen to go to Shimabara, there's a grimy looking place just one block west just across the railroad tracks from the train-bus station, on the left (across from MosBurger), where I got an 8-piece sushi plate with thumb-sized pieces of a variety of fish for 9,000 yen. No English spoken there, and the barman and customers got a big laugh when I found the wasabi bomb and sputtered.
re: Harry Styron
Try any of the mobile food stalls (yatai) in Nakagawa and Tenjin -- they are only there at night and they are usually sprecialised on certain dishes, i.e. yakitori (skewers) or ramen. You can just move from one to another -- it's fun and really cheap.
Fukuoka is ramen haven. Don't miss Ichiran Ramen, 1-10-15 Tenjin, Chuo-ku; it's a 24 hour place with fantastic home-made ramen. You have to get a ticket in advance and you can order the ramen according to your taste -- for example a very spicy broth with your ramen al-dente. (They have forms in English.) One bowl of ramen is about 650 yen. The seating is quite strange as you sit in individual booths each with an individual water tap -- communication isn't very easy. But then you're there for the ramen, not for the talking. Quite an experience. And don't get discouraged by long queues -- it's worth the wait.