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May 21, 2007 12:27 AM

Fukuoka Trip Report

Was there for four days w/ my gf in April. Wow, what a great food city. Some highlights:

1) Hakata Daruma -- great tonkastu ramen. Loved the whole cloves of garlic w/ a garlic press on each of the wooden tables. Cute little place w/ young vibe. We (my gf and i) prefered it to Ichiran, although that was tasty too.

2) Hidden Kitchen (or: Kakure Daidokoro Hisa Okaya)...okay, this is one of my new favorite restaurants on the planet. A small, somewhat upscale counter-only place w/ good shochu selection. Best anago and bamboo shoot tempura i've ever had. Chu-toro sashimi that was better than any o-toro i can remember elsewhere. Kagoshima black pork salad w/ w/ lightly dressed greens and sweet tomatoes. Fugu kara age. Each dish outdid the next. We were stunned and delighted and the staff were sweet too. An absolute Chowhoundy winner, really deserving of a post all its own.

3) Kikka...another upscale izakaya. Trendier vibe than Hidden Kitchen (where its more about the food) but some delicious negi&jako salad and some aji sashimi w/ homemade yuzukosho. Stellar shochu selection w/ great suggestions from the bartender.

4) Tempura-ya (aka Aki-chan's place)...a yatai on the northern port/Nagahama area. The only one on the block that does tempura so easy enough to find. Another knockout meal w/ ika, kibinago, and fugu tempura being the standouts. Also fine oden: especially the iwashi tsumire (like a giant fishy yummy sardine meatball) and the giant daikon.

The only downer of the trip foodwise was Sushi Ueda, where we had an overpriced, mediocre sashimi&sushi lunch that was almost but not quite redeemed by a nice piece of cooked, miso-marinated snapper.

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  1. Glad you had a good time in Fukuoka. After my experience there in November, I'm looking forward to going back to sample more of the food. My interest was piqued by your description of Hidden Kitchen (Kakure Daidokoro Hisaokaya --隠・台所 久岡家). I found a couple web pages with some more description and, more importantly, how to find it.
    Gurunavi website:
    A blog page with photos:

    1 Reply
    1. re: E Eto

      Cool. Lemme know what you think of it when you make it there. The name notwithstanding, it's not so difficult to find (fairly central and near a few other places). We found out about it through of one those Japanese city-guide/ad magazines that they have for every city/popular-region. Also, not a bad idea to make a reservation: the first time we tried it they were packed, so we reserved for the following night (when as it turned out they were only half full and we would have been fine)...

    2. Hey Simon, on my way to Fukuoka tomorrow. If you see this in time, could you tell me where is Hakata Daruma please! Thanks!

      4 Replies
      1. re: RoachCoach

        I'm going in August, so even if not in time, I'd love to find out where it is please :)

        1. re: RoachCoach

          Hakata Daruma is 5minutes walk from Watanabe do-ri subway station. just walk 3blocks toward Sumiyoshi bridge(go east) from the station. the address is Watanabe do-ri 1-8-26. enjoy:)

          1. re: whiteamber

            Thanks whiteamber & E. Eto! That was a nice place, nice people too.

          2. re: RoachCoach

            Here's a link (in Japanese). There's a link to a map on the left.

          3. Thank you SO much for listing Hidden Kitchen... we just went a couple of weeks ago and it was incredible. The service was great, and the food was awesome! We got the chu-toro and the tempura. We got the black pork salad, which was incredibly delicious! We also got this mushroom soup that they steeped in a tea kettle and then served to us. There was also a green slimy thing with a raw egg cracked on top that was too die for! It looked gross and the waiter had ordered it for us, so we dug right in and we LOVED it! We also got a lightly seared beef that was very yummy! Unfortunately, we don't speak Japanese, so I don't know the names as we just pointed at random stuff (in Japanese) on the menu and hoped it was good. It was ALL good. I would definitely recommend going to this place to everyone! Thank you again for writing about it!

            1 Reply
            1. re: sheitoon

              i'm delighted that you enjoyed it!

            2. Hello Simon, I finally made it to Hakata and to Hidden Kitchen last night, thanks for the rec. The chu-toro sashimi was indeed revelatory and the uni chawanmushi, tofu salad, ochazuke and sake selections were`t too shabby either. However was disappointed overall with the sashimi moriawase platter we got, partly our own fault as we got talked into ordering whale sashimi (we didn`t realise that we were getting throat, "bacon", liver and tongue, maybe it`s an acquired taste but none of the whale items did anything for me or my girlfriend) and partly the fact that they served certain fish (amadai and buri) aburi style which I didn`t feel worked for those particular fish varietals. They also served mentaiko in aburi style, I quite liked that dish but wasn`t blown away although it`s always good to try local speciality items. We reserved for 9.30pm no problem and it wasn`t too hard to find. Price was Y13,000 for the 2 of us with plenty of sake, I guess the whale pushed up our tab. One of the chefs wondered how we found out about the place so my girlfriend explained to him and he seemed to remember you and said that you have visited a few times. Afterwards we went to a bar in the same tiny alleyway (Japan Room or some such) and drunk more sake, got chatting to people in the bar and ended up being taken to another nearby bar by one of the barmen and a fellow customer, a really fun evening. They explained that the area used to be run down but has revived in recent years. Overall definitely recommended for any hounds passing through Hakata although I prefer some of the modern izakaya style eating I`ve done in Tokyo in recent times. I need to dig up some names, got one of them from Tokyo Wallpaper City Guide 2007 of all places. Btw we are also finding those free city guide/ad mags a font of useful info (and good offers) as well as taxi drivers and folks in the streets handing out flyers!

              Have been in Nagoya and will also be in Tokyo and Sapporo later on in this trip so will send through a few reports as I go along. Makes a huge difference being with a native speaker, that goes without saying.

              1. Glad you had a good time in Fukuoka. Daruma is good, but if you go to Fukuoka next time, you have to try Hide-chan ramen. It is just amazing. It feels completely homemade and down home style compared to the other big name tonkotsu ramen shops!