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Ganso Hakata Mentaiju

Look around Fukuoka and you’ll find loads of souvenir shops that sell mentaiko (spicy pollock roe), but there’s only one restaurant that specializes in mentaiko dishes: Ganso Hakata Mentaiju. Step into the unique wooden box-like building, then get cozy in a private room or choose a seasonally-themed table or counter seat…

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Ikkokudo Kiyokawa

Not far from Yanagibashi Market, Ikkokudo opened in August 2001. Owner Kazuki Fukunaga was born and raised in the area and began his culinary career at 16, working in the kitchen of the now-shuttered Tarafukumanma. For the past 14 years, he has pleased the palates of customers with his dedication to preparation.

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Mizutaki (chicken hot pot) is a simple local dish, but with the Toriden touch, it becomes an memorable experience. Take a sip of the delectable white broth before you add the Kyushu-bred chicken to the pot. Don’t forget the locally grown green onions. Toriden makes its own seasonings—a mild yuzu gosho paste and a mellow ponzu sauce—that you can either enjoy with each bite of chicken or mix into the soup. Next, add the tsumire, or minced chicken, to the pot. The cabbage, kuzu-kiri and carrots round out the soup with a hint of sweetness. Finally, add zosui (rice porridge) or ramen noodles to the remaining soup for the finishing touch. Owner Hirokatsu Okutsu worked in French cuisine before entering the world of washoku.

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Yasushi Umebayashi has manned the kitchen at Gokoku since it opened in 1999. The owner-chef makes everything himself, from the trademark omurice to the desserts. The omurice is so popular that long lines form at lunchtime and on weekends. The rice, a mixture of rice cooked with barley and buttered mentaiko rice, is topped with an incredibly fluffy omelet. One stroke of your spoon will reveal savory, semi-liquid egg on the inside and the pink hue of the flavorful rice underneath. The omelet topping is deftly prepared from simple ingredients—two eggs, mozzarella cheese and milk. We recommend you try a bite before adding any ketchup. Umebayashi used to work in the Kanto area and his friends there raved about his omurice—his family is in the seafood business and used to send him mentaiko—so he put it on the menu when he opened. Another dish inspired by the family business is the maguro rice bowl. The risotto-esque milk porridge is also a big hit with customers of all ages. The portions at Gokoku are sizable, so we suggest you avoid the lunch rush and enjoy a leisurely, filling meal.

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D&Department Fukuoka is the ninth installment of designer Kenmei Nagaoka’s design-meets-recycling project centered on the concept of ‘long life design’. Each shop aims to showcase the unique character of the prefecture where it is located, and the Fukuoka shop is no different: it uses locally sourced seasonal ingredients. You can either sit at the counter and chat with the chef, or grab a seat on one of the Japanese-made sofas arranged around a long, shared table. You can also enjoy a glass of hard-to-find domestic wine with your meal. We recommend the seasonal platter (Full: ¥1,800/ Half: ¥1,200), which includes a delectable assortment of Itoshima pork pâté, fresh veggies, mentaiko potato salad and seasonal fish; the original dry curry is also a good choice. The carefully curated shop has an excellent selection of teas and sake and offers coffees from several local roasters on a rotating basis. D&Department also invites creators from a wide range of fields to run workshops that resonate with its core concept. Be sure to stop by for some thoughtful food, or some food for thought.

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Kamakiri Udon

The recently Kamakiri Udon is the sister shop of Niwakaya Chosuke, an izakaya in Yakuin whose handmade udon were so popular as a meal finisher that it decided to open a dedicated udon and donburi (“rice bowl”) shop. The noodles, which are made in-house from Itoshima flour, are soft yet resilient and retain a slightly wheaty flavor. You can enjoy them in warm bowl of flavorful broth or cold with the dipping sauce on the side. Kamakiri Udon offers the best of both the Sanuki and Hakata styles of udon. The donburi include the perennial favorites—katsudon, oyakodon and tendon—and you can also order a mini size (¥300~) to go with your udon. Last but not least, don’t miss the eye-catching “free small glass of beer anytime”. As the name suggests, you can order one glass of beer at no charge, day or night. If you’d like to continue beyond your complimentary beer, you can choose from a wide range of shochu and sake. Stop by for a late lunch or enjoy a bowl of noodles after a few drinks on the way home from work. At Kamakiri Udon, any time is udon time!

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Chaga Shoten Nishijin Ten

Hailing from Miyazaki City, this dynamic noodle shop opened their first shop in Fukuoka this June in Nishijin. The owner hopes this location, his fourth in Kyushu, will blow a new wind through Fukuoka’s tonkotsu-dominated ramen scene. You’re spoilt for choice with nine varieties of ramen and six different tsukemen “dipping noodle” dishes to choose from. Great for a hot summer night where you can’t face a boiling hot ramen – tsukemen is eaten by dipping cold noodles in warm, tasty broth. The light and refreshing Shio Tsukemen uses a chicken bouillon base with pork fat, natural salt, cucumber and lemon. There’s also regular offerings of pork, miso or soy broth, along with original menu items of Tomato Tsukemen and Clam Ramen. Plates of noodles in three sizes 200g, 300g and 400g are included for the same price, it’s your choice! Then there’s all-you-can-eat pickled cucumbers, and after finishing your noodles you’re offered a bowl of soup made from the leftover broth. Warm hospitality offered to foreigners begins with an English explanation on tsukemen eating etiquette posted near the ticket vending machine. Ready to venture beyond tonkotsu ramen? Try a dip at Chaga Shoten!

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To stand out amongst the countless number of seafood restaurants in Fukuoka and still remain reasonably priced you have be extra special. Isoragi, located inside Kooten on the ninth floor of JR Hakata City, delivers that “extra special” in the form of delicate details, full flavors and with comfort in a simplistic modern Japanese ambiance. Most patrons go to enjoy their kaisen-don (rice bowl with seafood toppings) or their chazuke (the same with fish broth poured on top). Ordered as a set you get appetizers, soup, dessert and tea. The most popular set is the Isoragi Kaisen-don which includes a colorful selection including uni, ikura, ebi, made, rotate, anago, salmon, and more on a bed of warm rice. Add a dash of soy sauce or Isoragi’s original sesame sauce. Most restaurants slice the fish, whereas Isoragi chops the seafood into small cubes which makes the seafood easier to eat and glimmer like jewels! Mixed sets, with two smaller bowls for donburi and chazuke, are available. Splendid presentation, friendly service and fabulous flavors not only satisfy locals but will deeply impress visitors to Fukuoka. Ask for a window seat for a sparkling city view!

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Motsunabe Keisyu

While the prospect of eating cow’s intestines may seem less than tempting at first, Hakata’s specialty dish motsunabe is proof that you shouldn’t knock it ‘til you try it! This hot-pot featuring beef entrails (motsu) and vegetables in a delicious broth has gained popularity across Japan. If you’re new to motsu, “Motsunabe Keisyu”– a modern and stylish restaurant located down a quiet alley in the foodies district of Nishinakasu is a good place to start. As the sister restaurant of long-established “Yakiniku Keisyu”, the meat used in all dishes is top quality. Keisyu’s motsu is sourced from Kagoshima and is soft and pink before cooking– a sign of its freshness. But what really sets this motsunabe apart is its broth, the most critical element of the dish. In addition to the soy and white miso broth, they also offer an original “salted tail” broth, made from slow boiled beef tail. Chinese cabbage, onion, garlic and other vegetable are simmered in this broth along with the motsu to create a rich meal. It’s simply delicious! Another recommended dish and one that goes well with motsunabe is crispy wagyu beef gyoza. There’s also an izakaya-style menu of over 30 favorite dishes that go well with wine, and private rooms are available on the second floor.

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Hachi Hachi Akasaka

Grilling your own meat at a yakiniku restaurant is one of the essential Japanese dining experiences. There are many theories about the origins of this cook-it-yourself barbecue, but the most common is that although Koreans were the first to grill meat in this way, it was in post-war Japan that…

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