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Kumamoto, Aso, Takachiho Gorge, Kurokawa Onsen, Usaki, Beppu, Yufuin, Hakata/Fukuoka

Hello Folks

I'll be spending 8 nights in Kyushu in late autumn, visiting the above locations.

My overnights are 2 nts Kumamoto, 2 nights Kurokawa Onsen, 2 nights Yufuin Onsen, 2 nights Hakata.

Dinner is included at my ryokan for both nights in Kurokawa (would have preferred just one night but the ryokan I really liked best does not offer a B&B plan) and for one night in Yufuin. The rest of our meals are open, including breakfast in both Kumamoto and Hakata.

The other places I've listed are the places we're planning to visit during the days, we'll have a rental car to get around more easily.

Kumamoto
=========
For Kumamoto, I have already decided on Sugano-Ya for the horse meat dishes there. That's one night.

A local friend recommended Ramen Tenho as her colleagues/ friends love it but hasn't been herself. I love ramen but not sure I know it well enough to need to seek out the very best places. I'd like to avoid queues too if possible. But still open to suggestions, thank you.

She also likes Jang Jang Go, a Chinese/Asian-fusion place. Given that Chinese influence is meant to be one of the differentiators of Japanese food in Kyushu over the rest of the country, I thought this might be interesting?

I would also like to try sweet potato specialities such as Ikinari dango or any other ones. Can anyone tell me the names of more specialities to look out for or anywhere good to search/ try them?

Hakata
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We're staying by Canal City, which I understand is near the Yatai stalls and the Ramen Stadium - can anyone advise if the latter is a good way of accessing good quality local style ramen?

Any tips on selecting a good yatai stall or is it more a case of grabbing a pair of seats where we find them?

Other
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I'd really like to go somewhere known for excellent tonkatsu during the week as I understand that Kyushu pork is superb in quality.

Searching on this board, I see mentions of Miyazaki chicken (which, if I am following properly, is simply chicken bred and raised in a particular area) and Mizutaki (Fukuoka-style chicken stew). Any feedback on trying these?

I can't find much for Beppu, Yufuin etc.

Thank you in advance for your help,
Kavey

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  1. Forgot to also mention buta no kakuni, which a Japanese friend of mine has cooked for me and which I really like.

    And the tetsunabe gyoza I read about on an old thread by E Eto.

    Also on his thread, mentaiko...

    I would also be happy to try the famous squid but would not be interested in having it served live. I'll refrain from commenting on the ethics, as those are for each diner to decide for themselves, just note that it's not for me.

    1. We visited the Ramen Stadium in May. Went around 9:00 PM . Not that crowded. You have about seven various shops of different styles to choose from that share a central seating area with limited seating within the shops. The ramen was good and the price was right. Sake, shochu and beer is also available. The demographic trended young, teens to 20's and the music was loud american gangster rap of the "take your shirt" off variety. I suppose it would be up to the individual whether this was a plus or minus in the ambience category.

      If you get the chance to find it there is a english publication brochure available in the tourist centers called "Dining in Fukuoka" that has an excellent breakdown of eating options with a spotlight on various yatai locations and their specialties as well as other restaurants and places with english menus. I believe Fukuoka is trying to promote itself as a gourmet city which it certainly is and the menu program is a part of this effort.
      The Amu Plaza Hakata right in front of the station has restaurants on the 9th and 10th floor. We enjoyed Shisen Hanten, Szechuan cuisine of the former Iron Chef Kenichi's group. Ippudo is also on this floor for ramen.
      Have a great time

      8 Replies
      1. re: Smoothiemeister

        Thanks Smoothiemeister!

        I'm not into loud music really, but perhaps will drop in as it's so near our hotel.

        I'll look out for that Fukuoka dining guide, if I can get it in advance, gives me time to read it.

        I think we've found a great great volunteer guide for Fukuoka who has an interest in food too, so we may bow to her suggestions on choosing Yatai etc.

        :-)

        1. re: Kavey

          Kavey , If I can find the guide I'll send info on it. Sounds like having a Fukuoka resident guide will be fun. In Kurokawa we ate at our ryokan for dinner and breakfast which we enjoyed. In the town by the river we had lunch at a place called Warokuya which was nice. We had a specialty bacon plate with a large salad.
          One specialty product I discovered and brought home jars of for gifts was Yuzu Gosho , a paste made from citrus, peppers and salt. It looks like wasabi on the side of the plate or in a small ceramic jar and I really like the flavor.

          1. re: Smoothiemeister

            I adore yuzu citrus so shall look out for yuzu gosho, thank you!

            We'll also be eating breakfast and dinner in our ryokan in Kurokawa so will only be looking for lunch locally... though we may be out and about at Aso and/ or Takachiho Gorge during the day...

            :-)

            1. re: Kavey

              Most people pronounce it as "Yuzu Kosho" and it is written
              柚子胡椒
              A Google search on either term will turn up lots of pictures.

              1. re: Tripeler

                Thanks, is it long life?
                Wondering, if I do bring some home, how long an unsealed jar would realistically last?
                Thanks

                1. re: Kavey

                  It will last awhile. There is a lot of salt in it. There are several types- green spicy, red spicy, as well as a green sweeter version. I used to bring it back from Japan myself but now I'm seeing it at Japanese markets in the States.

                  1. re: Kavey

                    Well, considering that we found an opened jar of homemade yuzu kosho buried deep in the bowels of a friend's refrigerator, were able to figure out that it was at least five years old, and it still tasted wonderful, I'd say for quite a long time!

                    With all of the salt and spicy pepper inside, I'd personally not worry about it unless there was a visible mold growing on top, or it had an unusual smell. Okay, different from it's normal unusual aroma!

                    1. re: Hiyodori

                      Thanks both, I shall look out for some!

        2. * Fukuoka:
          There's 3 yatai maps here:
          http://universiade.fjct.fit.ac.jp/en/...

          There's an izakaya called Hakatabei near Kushida shrine which I really like.
          http://fukuoka-now.com/article/hakata...

          It's not Fukuoka food, but I really like a soba restaurant there called Murata:
          http://fukuoka-now.com/food/murata/

          * Kurokawa:
          I've probably mentioned it before, but I can't recommend enough Ikoi Ryokan:
          http://www.ikoi-ryokan.com/english/

          1 Reply
          1. re: anarcist

            Wonderful thanks!

            In Kurokawa we're booked into Sanga Ryokan, which looks lovely and have seen some very good reviews.

            Shall check out your links, thank you again.

          2. I was in Hakata the other night and came across a "liquor shop" that I thought was worth mentioning: Charme du Vin (www.charme-du-vin.com). The shop has absolutely no shochu or nihonshu nor any other Japanese alcohol, at least as far as I could tell. But it does have one of the best selections of distilled spirits I have ever seen, and at quite reasonable prices. They have around 75 different tequilas, at least 100 varieties of scotch, 20 or so of absinthe, etc. They also have wine. The shop is about a five minute walk from Hakata station, on the north side as I recall.

            4 Replies
            1. re: edozanmai

              I think for me, I'd really only be looking to buy Japanese alcohol on this trip...

              1. re: edozanmai

                Oooh, lock me up in there and throw away the key!

                1. re: Uncle Yabai

                  I think Uncle Y. gets it; there are many, many shops that sell Japanese sake but only one that I have ever come across like this place in Hakata that has such a wide selection of bottles, none of which are Japanese. Remember, this shop is in Hakata. There are plenty of sake shops selling local sake and shochu, but none that I have ever come across like this one selling all kinds of liquors from all over the world.

                  1. re: edozanmai

                    Completely understand, and for those living in Japan, this probably has more interest. But for me as a visitor to Japan, my focus is on Japanese products!

                    :-)

              2. On my recent trip to Fukuoka I really regretted not buying more of the mentaiko salad dressing that is available there. It's commonly served on shredded cabbage. Think it has a little shiso in it. Not sure what it's properly called but it was pretty ubiquitous in the grocery stores and travels much better than plain old mentaiko.

                Also, make sure you try the motsunabe. Motsunabe Keisyu was an unforgettable meal.

                1 Reply
                1. re: mrgreenbeenz

                  Thank you for both those suggestions, I shall buy some of the dressing and try and fit in the motsunabe. I've booked a volunteer guide (who I've been recommended) and she's going to help us not just see the sights but try local dishes.

                2. Hi Kavey, I live in Hakata, and I can give you some info about local food.

                  Yatai is not a place for serious foodies. I advice you to keep it for after dinner ramen and drink. Taste-wise, I don't see much differences between yatais, but please be aware that some of the yatais in Nakasu are rip-off.

                  Ramen Stadium has a few good local ramen shops and few shops from other regions.

                  Usually yatai provides more traditional style of Hakata ramen, and Ramen Stadium has restaurants with more their own style of ramen.

                  Pork is a speciality of Kagoshima, and there are not so many options to eat great pork dishes outside of Kagoshima. If you still want to try, I can recommend "Taisho-tei" in Fukuoka. You can have great Kurobuta tonkatsu there. They provide the same dish much cheaper in lunch time. http://www.taishotei.com/

                  I strongly recommend Happu for chicken dishes. I recommend their Hakata Mizutaki, assorted chicken sashimi, and Miyazaki-style char-grilled chicken (momo no sumibiyaki). http://r.gnavi.co.jp/f192000/lang/en/...

                  You can have superb sashimi and Saga-beef steak at Tarogen. Early reservation recommended. This is the place I bring friends visiting Hakata. http://tabelog.com/fukuoka/A4001/A400...

                  Cheap but good sushi at "Fujimaru" kaiten-zushi place. I recommend their mackarel (saba), aji, sardines (iwashi), and grilled samma. http://tabelog.com/fukuoka/A4001/A400...

                  Other Hakata favorites are:
                  - Motsunabe (beef-intestine nabe) at Yamanaka. http://tabelog.com/fukuoka/A4001/A400...
                  - Horumon-yaki (beef-intestine barbeque) at Taigen Horumon. http://tabelog.com/fukuoka/A4001/A400...

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: araipiyo

                    Thank you so much, really great.
                    If you want to meet for a drink when we are there, let me know. x

                    1. re: Kavey

                      Sure, why not? When do you come to Hakata?

                      1. re: araipiyo

                        Would it be OK to take this offline, I don't want to bore anyone who is not in area/ available to meet up?
                        My email is kaveyf at gmail.com and I'll be there for the November holiday weekend.
                        x

                  2. beppu - last time we go there we have a great time eating dishes steam by the hot spring water. must try the steam corn and chicken. i forgot the name of the restaurant but it pretty popular even for locals . you can asked by the tourist information because there's where we got the place from.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: almonay12

                      I am going to look at for some of the onsen eggs, for sure!

                    2. I just caught this video of a visit to the Hakata mentai restaurant , Ganso Hakata Mentaiju on YouTube.

                      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DOZsrO...

                      I wish I'd seen it before I was in Hakata, the place looks pretty good.
                      Micaela's demographic trends young but she has some fun stuff on Japan travel and eating.