Asahiken (旭軒), gyoza shop, Fukuoka/Hakata
After our outing at Tsukasa, we walked around other parts of the city where I read there were other good yatais. But something felt wrong. Many of the stands were completely dark, or folded up. Then I realized it was Sunday. The majority of these little mom and pop operations like these yatais take Sundays off, which I knew, but it just didn’t register that it was Sunday. We were working up an appetite after walking off our Tsukasa meal, and as we neared the hotel, I pulled out my Tabearuki guide, and decided we should go for another of Fukuoka’s specialties: gyoza. In a quiet area between Canal City and the train station, we found Asahiken. It was getting late, and it was Sunday, so we were afraid that we would be let down again. Luckily, they were open, but only a half hour till closing time. We took a couple seats at the counter, and even before we could get comfortable, the man behind the counter was pouring the gyoza sauce in the little dipping bowls.
Asahiken reminds me of a place like Katz’s Deli in NYC, or Schwartz’s in Montreal, with a friendly old-school diner vibe. When you sit down, it’s not a matter of what you get, but how many orders. There are only 7 things on the menu, and it seems that all the non-gyoza items are meant to be sidedishes to gyoza. Here’s the menu with photos: http://r.gnavi.co.jp/f061000/menu1.htm
For 330 yen, you get 10 small gyoza that are perfectly fried to get that crunchy brown crust. Texturally, they’re perfect. Flavor-wise, they don’t go beyond the classic (the ingredients are the standard pork, chive, cabbage, garlic), but I do believe that the texture is the main selling point here. Being so small and dominated by the crispy exterior, they’re like potato chips—you can’t have just one. It’s very easy to eat 10 without even trying. We were contemplating another order, except we heard the counter guy tell a customer that they’re down to their last 2 orders and they were done for the night. We also wanted to try the chicken wings (I’ve read about these as well), but they were sold out when we arrived. That will have to wait for another visit.
Websites with more info: http://r.gnavi.co.jp/f061000/