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. The most popular item on the menu is the eponymous Mentaiju—a piece of kombu-wrapped mentaiko served over white rice topped with nori seaweed, all seasoned with a special sauce. Feeling hungry? Then order a large (two pieces of mentaiko) or an extra large (three pieces). If you order more than one piece of mentaiko, you can choose your method of preparation: raw, grilled or fried a la tempura. (We highly recommend the tempura.) You may also want to try the Mentai tsuke-men, a delicious dish of noodles with mentaiko and a sauce made from stewed veggies. According to the chef, this dish has a rich yet mild flavor that even those who claim not to like mentaiko can enjoy. And if you want a double dose of Hakata, the shop also serves a mentaiko-infused motsunabe.
Ganso Hakata Mentaiju
Address: 6-15 Nishi-nakasu, Chuo-ku, Fukuoka
Hours: 9:00~24:00 (L.O. 23:30)
Mentaiju ¥1,480 (L (2 pcs.) ¥2,580/XL (3 pcs.) ¥3,680, Mentai-nikomi Tsuke-men ¥1,280, Mentai Motsunabe ¥2,200, Draft beer ¥680 Glass of wine ¥680
Originally published in Fukuoka Now (fn195, Mar. 2014)