Kumamoto, Aso, Takachiho Gorge, Kurokawa Onsen, Usaki, Beppu, Yufuin, Hakata/Fukuoka
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.
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?
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?
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,
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.
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
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.
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.
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!
There's 3 yatai maps here:
There's an izakaya called Hakatabei near Kushida shrine which I really like.
It's not Fukuoka food, but I really like a soba restaurant there called Murata:
I've probably mentioned it before, but I can't recommend enough Ikoi Ryokan:
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.
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.
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.