Between the shopping mecca of Tenjin and the entertainment district of Nakasu, you will find Nishi-nakasu, which is home to a handful of popular, chic eateries. With a spacious modern Japanese interior and friendly staff, Hakata Hotaru prides itself on making dishes using local ingredients and pairing them with locally made sake or domestic wine. Start with an appetizer tray and soak up the atmosphere before you move to your main dish. The local favorite, goma saba, comes with the sesame dressing on the side because you’ll want to savor the fresh mackerel before you decide to add dressing. Hakata Hotaru’s pride and joy, however, is warayaki (cuisine seared in a straw fire), which uses rice straw from Itoshima. The menu includes the warayaki sampler, with maguro (tuna), seasonal fish and Hakata’s own mentaiko (spicy cod roe), and the hobayaki, seared high-grade Meishan pork flavored with sansho miso served on a large dry leaf. But no matter what you choose, a night at Hakata Hotaru is sure to please.
Appetizer tray (5 varieties) ¥1,280, Hakata goma saba ¥980, soft-boiled egg warayaki ¥350, Warayaki Sampler ¥2,400, Meishan pork and sansho miso hobayaki ¥1,480, Hakata mentaiko onigiri ¥350, sake of the day ¥390~, Japanese wine of the day ¥600~, draft beer ¥600
Originally published in Fukuoka Now Magazine (fn210, Jun. 2016)