Although launched just three months ago (Aug. 16) Fruit Shake & Bar Yoji appears to have been in Daimyo neighborhood forever. Its laidback atmosphere, well-travelled shop owner and rustic interior design fit the Daimyo aesthetic to a T. You can’t miss the shop: the yellow exterior with inbuilt street-side bench is great if you want your juice on-the-go, but we recommend entering the shop to experience the fruit bar in all of its low-ceilinged glory (note: average to tall customers mind your heads!)
Owner and sole shop staff Torikai serves fruit shakes, drinks and light snacks between 2pm and 2am from Tuesday to Sunday. There are usually six different fruit shakes on offer, with flavors varying to feature seasonal fruits – now as we go into winter, you’ll find strawberries in the mix. You can also request a custom “mix shake” from the fruits available, or hit the heavier stuff – with Yebisu beer, wine, spirits, shochu, cocktails on offer. The snack menu includes the recommended dry cured ham, along with beef jerky, olives, cheese and pickles.
Torikai loves the “machi” town atmosphere of the Daimyo streets, and the opportunity to interact one-on-one with his customers. With a background in restaurants – having opened Italian/French restaurants in both Tokyo and Fukuoka – he was accustomed to being more removed from the customers. Now he takes pleasure in chatting with visitors to his bar, who range from children to old ladies! He’s also got regulars who stop by and drink into the late hours.
The bar is foreigner friendly – Torikai has travelled rather extensively in Europe, Canada and Asia and he understands English well, but he’ll reply in Japanese. Not a bad trade-off! In fact it was Torikai’s travels in Asia that spurred the idea of bringing a fruit bar to Fukuoka, and inspired its tropical theme (seen in the logo design).
Once you’re sitting comfortably at the bar, you’ll notice the personal touches to the otherwise clean interior. Original black and white photographs taken by Torikai on his travels are displayed, along with pictures of his favorite Rolling Stones member Ronnie Wood, postcards and souvenirs from cafes in Amsterdam and other details that add to the bar’s personality. The music has two different moods: at lunchtime there’s a lighter, pop atmosphere, but at night the soundtrack turns to a more rock/alternative vibe. Torikai is proud of his metallic countertop, but the biggest feature of the bar is its charming low ceiling. Even the owner has to stand with his legs on a slight angle as he prepares drinks, so as not to hit his head.
Fukuoka Now staff Ellery (Australia) and interns Katie (UK) & Tomo (NZ/Japan) popped by Fruit Shake & Bar Yoji for a Friday afternoon juice, ordering the Lemon Shake and Apple Grapefruit Shake. Watching Torikai methodically blend the delicious fresh fruits and crushed ice behind the bar worked up our thirst, and we were not disappointed by the taste!
Fruit Shake & Bar Yoji
• Tue.~Sun. 14:00~02:00, Closed: Mon.
• 1-2-28 Daimyo, Chuo-ku
View Fruit Shake & Bar Yoji in a larger map
Menu: Mix Shake ¥650, Pineapple Shake ¥500, Lemon Shake ¥600, Banana Pineapple Shake ¥500, Grapefruit Shake ¥500, Apple Grapefruit Shake ¥500; Yebisu Beer on tap ¥700, Wine ¥600, Cocktails (Gin, Vodka, Whiskey, Tequila, Rum) ¥500~¥950; Shochu ¥400~¥700; Dry-Cured Ham and Sausages ¥1,500, Dry Cured Ham ¥800, Beef Jerky ¥500, Olives ¥500
Report by Ellery Herbert for Fukuoka Now, Dec. 6, 2013.