Picture a two-story renovated Japanese house nestled down a narrow lane in Daimyo with no signs to mark it and only your trusty Fukuoka Now map to show you the way. This is Ikeda-ya, and while it might sound like a hassle to find, this gyoza specialty shop is well worth the hunt. At Ikeda-ya, gyoza isn’t a sideshow, it’s the main attraction. One order gets you six handmade dumplings floating in a bowl of creamy chicken soup topped with freshly chopped green onions. The exact recipe is a secret, but it involves free-range chicken roasted over charcoal and mixed with veggies, then stuffed into a wrapper so silky it almost melts in your mouth. The soup is mostly chicken-based, but there’s a touch of pork broth mixed in to give it a deliciously meaty flavor. Enjoy it as is, or fire it up with some spicy chili sauce. But don’t drink it up too fast, because that’s just the beginning of this gyoza dinner delight! For the second course, choose either noodles or specially prepared rice to add to the remaining soup, the perfect way to soak it all up and fill any remaining space in your belly. Other dishes include a good sashimi selection, takedofu (tofu served in bamboo), wasabi leaf salad, and tsubodai (boarfish) miso yaki. Beer is the recommended beverage, but there are plenty of shochu varieties to choose from, including Kuranshiko, a potato version recommended by the manager. Call before going, because Ikeda-ya is so popular it’s hard to get in without reservations!
1-4-28 Daimyo, Chuo-ku
Takigyoza (6 pieces) 600 yen, champon noodles (for mixing in soup) 250 yen, ojiya (rice for mixing in soup) 400 yen, Kurobuta Nankotsu 500 yen, takedofu 500 yen, Yebisu draft beer 500 yen
18:00 ~ 24:00 L.O. 23:00
Originally published in Fukuoka Now magazine (fn97, Jan. 2007)