Surrounded by seas, mountains, and fields, Fukuoka is a city where fresh ingredients are readily available to restaurants and markets. It’s renowned for offering delicious dishes at affordable prices. Both locals and tourists from within and outside Japan enjoy dining out, and there’s even a culture of “hashigo” where people hop from one eatery to another in a single evening.
After enjoying drinks, especially alcoholic ones, ending the night with a bowl of ramen is a common practice in Fukuoka. In areas bustling with eateries, ramen shops operating late into the night can easily be found. Despite ramen being a simple dish of soup and noodles, each shop offers a unique twist. You’ll encounter various styles, from clear broths to frothy, cappuccino-like rich soups, and some enhanced with seafood or soy sauce. Global ramen chains such as Ippudo (founded in 1985 with its main branch in Daimyo) and Ichiran (founded in 1960 with its headquarters in Nakasu) originated in Fukuoka.
For those still hungry at ramen joints, ensure you don’t finish the soup! There’s a system called “kaedama”, where extra noodles can be added to the remaining broth. Moreover, customers can also choose the firmness of their noodles. Locals often prefer “barikata”, a very firm noodle that has been boiled for a shorter time. In the Hakata dialect, “bari” means very.
When it comes to yakitori, skewered meat dishes, Fukuoka offers more than just chicken. Yakitori restaurants serve skewered beef, pork, and vegetables too. Each skewer often represents a specific part of the meat. For instance, chicken skin, rolled and skewered as “torikawa”, and pork belly skewers known as “buta bara” are popular in Fukuoka. An unexpected accompaniment at these establishments is raw cabbage, similar to the bread you might receive at western restaurants. Dressed with vinegar, citrus, or broth, this cabbage acts as a side dish. While Yakitori is a popular street food across Asia, in Fukuoka, it’s enjoyed as a proper meal with family or a dish to savor with friends over drinks.
Many chefs, after honing their skills in culinary capitals like France and Italy, have returned to Fukuoka to open their restaurants. From establishments opened by Michelin-starred chefs from Paris to Japanese eateries launched by chefs who’ve traveled the world, Fukuoka offers a rich variety in fine dining.
One notable restaurant, initially called Royal Nakasu Main Store and later renamed “Hana no Ki”, had hosted Marilyn Monroe and baseball player Joe DiMaggio on their honeymoon in February 1954. Located now in Ohori Park, the table and chairs used by Monroe are still in use.
As dusk settles, the streets of Fukuoka come alive with Yatai, or food stalls. There are about 100 such stalls in the heart of Fukuoka, particularly in the areas of Tenjin, Nakasu, and Nagahama. From ramen to gyoza, oden, yakitori, and egg dishes filled with Fukuoka’s specialty mentaiko, each stall offers its unique menu. There are even French stalls managed by French chefs and stalls specializing in coffee, distilled spirits, and cocktails.
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Basement 1F, JRJP Hakata Building, Hakata Staton, Fukuoka
Fukuoka Official Yatai Guide
While Japanese cuisine, rich in vegetables and beans, might seem vegetarian-friendly, the base of many dishes is a broth made from dried seafood. Hence, it’s not always easy to find plant-based menus. However, with the city’s increasing diversity, the number of eateries catering to vegans, vegetarians, and those following Halal has risen.
Macrobiotic Cafe Eva Dining
Hakata Riverain Mall 1F, 3-1 Shimokawabata-machi Hakata Ward, Fukuoka
City hotels and restaurants can also accommodate these dietary preferences.
The Ritz-Carlton Fukuoka
2-6-50 Daimyo, Chuo Ward, Fukuoka
Hilton Fukuoka Sea Hawk
2-2-3 Jigyohama, Chuo Ward, Fukuoka