Hakata is well-known for its many local delicacies such as Hakata ramen noodles and motsunabe (offal hotpot – much nicer than it sounds!). Mizutaki (chicken broth hotpot) is another, which has been popular since way back in the Keio era (1865–8). No seasonings are added to the broth, which draws the full flavor of the chicken out as it boils. The Hakata Hanamidori chain are among those keeping this authentic Hakata taste alive, with seven restaurants in Fukuoka, five in the Kansai area and even two in Dalian, China. Run by a poultry farming company, they only use meat from their own chickens, which are given a special feed containing seaweed and herb extracts. The meat has a rich umami flavor and is delivered directly from their processing facility in northern Kyushu for guaranteed freshness. A unique touch is the addition of deliciously firm chicken, yam meatballs and fresh liver. Their attention to detail is also evident in the classy, traditional interior where kimono-clad staff serve you at one of the counter seats overlooking the inner courtyard or in one of the private rooms. English, Chinese and Korean menus make this a great place for tourists, too.
Menu: Hanamidori mizutaki set with 2 side dishes, rice porridge or champon noodles, and pickled vegetables ¥2,800/person (minimum 2 persons), charcoal-grilled chicken ¥630, mizutaki fried chicken ¥550, etc.
Originally published in Fukuoka Now magazine (fn156 Dec. 2011)