Fukuoka Foodies held its inaugural event at Tenjin Bar 209 on Nov. 29 (Sun.), 2015. This free lunch event was a huge success, with 30 people of all ages and 15 different nationalities in attendance, including Brazilian, Latvian, Polish, French, American, Chinese and British.
The event was off to a good start as everyone picked up their first glass of wine at the bar (part of the open bar). There was some cooing over the interior, which has a relaxed, European feel, and is painted in Mediterranean reds. Nice touches include the log wallpaper on the restaurant’s back wall and the traditional wood oven; Tenjin Bar 209 also offers Roman-style pizza cooked in this wood-burning oven – another reason for foodies to seek out this place!
Once everyone was seated, there were three short welcome speeches. The first was given by our own Nick, founder of Fukuoka Now, who greeted all the foodies and explained that Fukuoka Foodies is a new dining society which aims to bring the food lovers of Fukuoka together, and to introduce them to new and recommended places. This free lunch event was the first in a series of lunches, dinners and other events designed by foodies for foodies.
Next was Sasaki-san, manager of Tenjin Bar 209. He explained that the restaurant wants to become more foreigner-friendly against the backdrop of the surging number of visitors to Fukuoka from overseas. Sasaki-san hopes that Tenjin Bar 209 can be one of the restaurants to fully satisfy foreign diners.
Finally the chef presented the menu. There was a buzz of excitement as he described the meal to come: an assortment of hors d’oeuvres, including a bagna cauda, followed by spaghetti with pancetta and tomato sauce, and then char-grilled Hokkaido Kuroge wagyu beef, all finished off with a creamy panna cotta. The end of the chef’s speech was met with a rousing round of applause and whoops, because he had read all of this out in English!
As the sharing platters of hor d’oeuvres were presented, the cameras came out. Each platter was not only large, but beautifully presented (very Instagram-friendly), including bagna càuda with Itoshima vegetables (the clean crunch of the vegetables contrasted nicely with the rich anchovy sauce), Parma ham imported from Italy and wrapped around grissini, Japanese sea bass carpaccio from the Genkai Sea topped with cod roe, and a delicate slice of roasted Kuroge Wagyu beef. As one diner pointed out, it was an excellent fusion of Western cuisine and Japanese ingredients.
Next came the pasta course: spaghetti with homemade pancetta in a tomato and aubergine sauce. It can be difficult to find good pasta dishes in Japan, but this spaghetti sauce was rich and flavorful, making it difficult to exert restraint when presented with such a generous portion. We needed to save room for the two coming courses!
The star of the show had to be the main course, the char-grilled Hokkaido Kuroge Wagyu beef. This was the reason most people had applied for the meal, and they weren’t disappointed. Two thick slices of beef (100g each) came with three seasonings on the side: wasabi, sea salt and shoyu (soy sauce). More than one person closed their eyes as they savored the first taste of the smoky, succulent beef. At only ¥10 per gram, it’s already great value, and our diners were enjoying it for ¥0 per gram!
Everything was rounded up with a creamy panna cotta topped with berries. This made for a smooth, soothing end to a rich, hearty meal. Some enjoyed a final coffee to fend off the drowsiness that a full belly brings.
The portions had been unusually generous, given that portion sizes are often smaller in Japan. When asked what price they would expect to pay for this meal usually, most answered ¥5,000 or higher; everyone was surprised to hear that this sort of spread would usually cost just ¥4,000 at Tenjin Bar 209.
Fukuoka Foodies wants to thank everyone who attended: all the participants were warm and sociable, which made for a great atmosphere. The workers at Tenjin Bar 209 were wonderful hosts, with impeccable, friendly service. Usually the bar is only open in the evenings, so we are all very grateful that they opened on a Sunday afternoon for us.
Everyone emerged from the restaurant with full stomachs and new like-minded foodie friends. We heartily recommend Tenjin Bar 209 to those eager to try Wagyu beef, and will most definitely be making a return visit ourselves!
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Tenjin Bar 209
Address: Daimyo Beauty Complex, 1-14-25, Daimyo, Chuo-ku, Fukuoka
Open: 18:00~1:00 (Sun. ~ Thu.), 18:00~3:00 (Fri. ~ Sat., day before Hol.)