Where to eat in Kyushu?
I'm planning a trip to Japan in May and a big part of traveling for me is the food! Right now, we're thinking of going to Kumamoto, Kurokawa, Fukuoka, Yufuin, and a day trip to Mt. Aso. I love traditional kaiseki and definitely want to fill up on sashimi and sushi. I hear horse sashimi is a specialty to this region, any thoughts on it? We will probably stay in a ryokan in Kurokawa and possibly Yufuin, any outstanding ones?Any recommendations would be appreciated. Thank you!
re: Robb S
Unfortunately, we only have 9nights/10 days so I would probably have to choose between Fukuoka and Kagoshima... As of far, we're thinking of flying into Kumamoto (2 nights) because of its proximity to Mt. Aso (is Mt. Aso worth it?). Following Kumamoto we will head to Kurokawa (for 2-3 nights at a ryokan), then Yufuin (1 night), and finally Fukuoka (3 nights).
Also, do you have any specific places that would go to in Kagoshima or Fukuoka? Thanks!
I guess if you're going to avoid urban areas for most of your vacation, then Fukuoka might be slightly more interesting than Kagoshima for your one city experience. Still though, three nights in the same ryokan during a nine-day trip sounds like it could get boring, and Kumamoto really isn't very exciting once you've seen the castle.
Wherever you finally decide to visit, I would suggest trying lots of local Kyushu cuisine rather than filling up on sushi. Kyushu is known for its excellent pork dishes, especially tonkotsu - (not to be confused with tonkotsu ramen) and kakuni stews; horsemeat cuisine (not just raw); charcoal-grilled Miyazaki chicken and mizutaki (Fukuoka-style chicken stew), sara-udon (Nagasaki-style noodles with seafood) and much more. And while shochu is more popular, there are some good local sakes.
Yufuin is a beautiful town, many of the ryokan has a view of Mount Yufu, really nice ! Don't miss the B-speck cake shop on the main street of Yufuin for the excellent swiss roll, which is an exclusive item from the ryokan Murata. The ryokan I recommend in Yufuin is ゆふいん花由, very nice !
Fukuoka is a great foodie city, you have to explore the "yatai" which are street side eatery (open air food stands). The one I recommend is "小金ちゃん", which is just opposite the Hotel Monterey La Soeur Fukuoka in the Tenjin area for its fried ramen (it is very rich) and other goodies. You can find Yatai all over Tenjin and Nakasu area, but be carefully about the pricing to make sure you are not over-charged ! Their menu are mostly all in Japanese and can speak very limited English, but most of them are very friendly. And also, don't forget the Tonkotsu ramen, it is the city for this kind of ramen. The Tonkotsu ramen I had at the main Ippudo branch is the fattiest compared to other branches I tried in Japan or NYC (the nyc version is a real toned-down version) !
I'm in Kagoshima right now and I can recommend the Castle Park hotel (Shiroyama Kanko hotel). We booked a package with breakfast and dinner and had some truly memorable meals here - they have a wonderful Satsuma-ryori restaurant with great pork shabu shabu and other local dishes. For a change, we also tried their Chinese restaurant and it was a very nice meal as well (it was not very authentic I think, the food seemed more like Japanese food and was delicious). The only bad thing about the hotel is that we only had lunch to have in the town and we did not manage it, so we'll have to visit Kagoshima again :-)