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Oct 31, 2006 03:33 PM

Fukuoka (Hakata) eating plan

Later in November, I'll be in Japan for a couple weeks and like I said in my Nagoya post, I'm thrilled to be able to plan my own travels around food, and Fukuoka (Hakata) is one of my first stops. Like Nagoya, Fukuoka is another city with many specialties. Most well known might be Hakata style ramen. But besides that, Fukuoka is known as the place for mentaiko (spice cod roe), motsunabe (offal hot pot), gyoza made/served in cast iron (tetsunabe gyoza) as well as the large number of night food stalls (yatai) that dot the city serving many of Fukuoka's specialties. And I shouldn't forget the seafood that is local to the Japan Sea.

Whenever I look at photos of the seafood specialties of Fukuoka, I seem to come across the ika sashimi plate that's sliced up and plated whole (like you see here: ). I must have this. I know ika is fresh and abundant from the Japan Sea, so it's no wonder it's a local specialty.
Teraoka: This place seems like a good place to start.

Motsunabe has reached a fad-like status in recent years, even in Tokyo. But it originates in Fukuoka and has been around for quite some time. It seems like a good inexpensive and hearty meal that's available in many places, including many yatais.
Echigoya (motsunabe) This website has a good photo of what it looks like, and seems like a good place to begin.

Tetsunabe Gyoza
I'm not quite sure what sets this gyoza apart from what's available everywhere else in Japan, but it's a Fukuoka specialty, and I'm all for checking it out. Maybe it's that they serve it in the cast iron container it was cooked in, and you get a huge portion.
Hakata Gyoza Yuushin This place is near Hakata station, and seems to be a good place to explore.
This website has an informal ranking of the top gyoza joints in Fukuoka:

It's a no-brainer that I'll have to seek out some of the originators of tonkotsu ramen. Two of the most famous are these.

I love the concept of yatais. They're more than just street vendors as we might be familiar with in the US. They can be much more elaborate setups, and are usually more like moveable kitchens with counter seating. I can't think of a better setting for late-night eating.
About yatais in Fukuoka: (in English
)Here are a couple websites that has information on most of the yatais around the city:

I read about this place in one of the Japanese food magazines and am looking forward to going there with a real imo-shochu aficionado.
Shochu Bar Imo (in English


Seems that you can find mentaiko in most teishoku places and many yatais serve it with gohan (rice), so I'm sure I won't have a problem coming across it. But I want to find the exceptional stuff. There's a central market (like Tsukiji) in the area known as Yanagibashi, that's probably worth snooping around for this.
This page has a ranking of the top 30 or so producers of mentaiko:
I had to include this page just for the photos:

Basashi (horse sashimi
)The original plan was to tour around Kyushu, but with time limitations, I had to compromise with just hanging around Fukuoka for my taste of Kyushu. Horse meat is the specialty from Kumamoto which is just down the road from Fukuoka. Luckily, I heard about an izakaya that specializes in Kumamoto specialties, including the aforementioned basashi (horse sashimi) and other items using horse meat.
Nanden Umaka

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  1. As I snooped around more on the restaurant specializing in Kumamoto specialties, especially horse meat, I find myself even more fascinated by this menu. Here's the Nanden Umaka's webpage with their menu:
    The third heading is their sashimi choices (where you find the characters 刺し). Here's a brief translation:

    Horse ootoro sashimi: 4200yen
    Horse chutoro sashimi: 2800yen
    Horse redmeat fillet sashimi: 1800yen
    Horse Futaego (3 layer meat--fat-meat-fat) sashimi: 1200yen
    Horse heart sashimi: 800
    Horse maine meat sashimi: 800yen
    Horse sashimi tataki: 1500yen
    Horse sashimi yukke: 1500yen
    Assorted horse sashimi (for one): 2600yen
    Assorted horse sashimi (for two): 4800yen

    Under the next heading:
    Horse tongue sashimi: 1400yen
    Horse liver sashimi: 1500yen
    (not sure what that third one is


    The rest of the menu describes other parts like belly, various offal, shoulder meat, etc. in a variety of preparations, like in stews, sautees, deep fried, broiled.

    My only other experience with horsemeat was in Montreal where I've had horse steak, as well as horsemeat tartar, both of which I enjoyed immensely. I'm glad I could find a restaurant like this that is so dedicated to preparing horsemeat, without having to travel further down in Kyushu to Kumamoto.

    1 Reply
    1. re: E Eto

      Yuu-shin was simply sublime. Amazing gyoza, fantastic atmosphere. Genuine, friendly staff interested in having conversations. Awesome umeshu. Loved it! It made the 6 hrs (3 each way) on the Shinkansen of travel worth it. ;)

      We went down to Hakata from Kyoto for ... ur, about 3hrs! Yes, we're crazy, apparently. That is, by the way, 3hrs travel, 3hrs there, 3hrs travel back.

      Our entire time in Hakata/Fukuoka consisted of Ichi Ran for ramen (it was really quite good, and quite an experience, but didn't justify 6hrs of travel) and then Yuu-shin for gyoza (which, as mentioned above, did justify 6hrs of travel! =) It would have been nice to spend more time down there, but with only 2 weeks in Japan, we prioritized Tokyo (which we totally didn't allocate enough time for, at around 6 days) and Kyoto ... with day-trips to Hakata and Osaka from Kyoto, and 1 overnight trip to Hakone from Tokyo.

      Thank you very much for this post about your eating plan for Hakata! It was an _invaluable_ resource for us for our day trip.

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