Edited by Elodi Troskie
Fukuoka is an incredible food destination. Located along the coast, you can only imagine how good the seafood is here! Fukuoka really prides itself in its traditional Japanese dishes and with the lively street food scene, it’s very easy to explore all the local foods this city has to offer. I’ve been living in Fukuoka for 14 years and I’ve never gotten tired of exploring its vibrant food culture. If you’re planning a trip to this Japanese hidden gem of a city, here are my suggestions for the best foods to eat in Fukuoka and where to find them.
Mizutaki is one of the foods Fukuoka is most famous for. This hot pot dish that is a medley of tenderly cooked chicken, glass noodles, and vegetables, generously served with ponzu dipping sauce is the most delicious budget meal you’ll find in Fukuoka. Like most Japanese hot pot dishes, mizutaki isn’t very expensive to prepare and can be spruced up in many different ways according to your likes and dietary preferences. Simple as it may sound, not everyone is so skilled as to prepare the perfect bowl of hearty mizutaki. Luckily for you, Fukuoka is the expert when it comes to this dish. You’ll find the best mizutaki at locally-owned restaurants, the best of which often can’t be found on Google! If you see a no-fuss eatery swarmed with locals, consider it a sign of a place that’ll do wonders for your taste buds.
You can’t leave Fukuoka without having tried Hakata ramen. This is one of Fukuoka’s most popular dishes and has made its way across many Asian countries. This particular type of ramen is made with thin, straight egg noodles and pork bone broth. This dish became so popular in the first place because of its low production cost and fast cooking time of the egg noodles, making it a convenient and practical lunch-time food for workers who worked on the docks of old Hakata (hence the name). The best place to eat Hakata ramen – or any other variant of Japanese ramen – is at the Ramen Stadium. Located on the fifth floor of the shopping center, Canal City, Ramen Stadium is a massive, atmospheric space consisting of multiple ramen outlets selling every style of ramen you can imagine. This outlet is situated in the Hakata district of Fukuoka and is open daily from 10:00 until 21:00.
Although mentaiko, better known as pollock roe, originally comes from Korea, Fukuoka has masterfully adapted this dish into their own cuisine. This spicy seafood dish consists of fresh roe that has been marinated in salt and red chili peppers. You can find mentaiko in most regions across Japan, but the coast-side Fukuoka is the best place in Japan to eat seafood. This dish is most commonly served with white rice, but it can also be enjoyed it cooked with pasta or broiled on toast. The best place to eat seafood in Fukuoka is at Fish Man’s, a post-industrial food market where you’ll find seafood at its finest – top-class sushi, misoyaki, donburi and, of course, the delectable pollock roe on rice. In addition to the incredible seafood dishes at this market, you’ll also find other meat dishes as well as vegetarian-friendly foods like tempura and vegetable bowls.
Yakitori is must-eat street food in Fukuoka. Although the name translates to “grilled bird”, there is much more to yakitori than just grilled chicken. This skewered street food can involve any kind of meat and sometimes even vegetables. Because it’s most commonly served as street food, the best yakitori in Fukuoka can be found at street food markets or yatai stalls. Yatai stalls are one of the coolest things in Fukuoka! These street food stalls pop up all over the city at night and stay open until the early morning hours. Eating at yatai stalls is the best way to experience the diverse street food culture of Fukuoka. It’s also one of the coolest things to do in Fukuoka at night! As a bonus, food served at these stalls are sold at bargain prices – perfect if you’re looking for budget eats in Fukuoka.
Sushi is probably the first thing that comes to mind when thinking about Japanese cuisine. The seafood heaven of Fukuoka will leave sushi lovers spoilt for choice with its countless sushi restaurants that fit all and every budget. Sushi Zanmai is a chain restaurant that was born in Kyushu and has since spread all across Japan. You’ll find Sushi Zanmai restaurants in various places in Fukuoka. One of the best ones in the city is located just two minutes from the Nishitetsu Fukuoka Tenjin Station. Prices are very reasonable and it’s open 24/7! If you’re looking for something a bit more exclusive, a great sushi restaurant is Sushi Yasukichi in the Hakata district. This restaurant makes for quite a unique dining experience. There is space for less than 10 people and the only item on the menu is the chef’s selection. Because of the limited space, it would be a good idea to book in advance.
Fukuoka’s climate allows for cultivating some of the best tropical fruits in Japan, especially strawberries. Fukuoka is well-known for its big, sweet strawberries. There are many farms surrounding Fukuoka where you can pick your own strawberries. The best time for strawberry picking in Fukuoka is between December and May – a fun outdoor activity, perfect for keeping kids entertained! Asaka Ichigo is a massive farm that grows a unique brand of strawberries called Kiyoka. Another great strawberry farm is Akiyama Gardening. This farm specializes in Amaou, one of the most popular strawberry varieties in Fukuoka, exclusive to Hakata.
Gyoza originated in China, but this bite-size street food has been well adopted into Japan’s culinary scene. Fukuoka was actually one of the first places in Japan to start experimenting with this dish and giving it a unique Japanese touch. The gyoza you’ll find in Fukuoka are crispy, pan-fried dumplings served alongside vegetables, noodle soup, or rice. Basically, there is no bad time or place for gyoza! You’ll find these dumplings at yatai stalls all over the city. A restaurant that makes great gyoza is Temujin situated in AMU Plaza Hakata City. Temujin is open from 11:00 until midnight every day.
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