The “Momochi Now” series is back with monthly interviews with people who live, work, or are otherwise involved with Momochi. Through their stories, we will bring you closer to Momochi now!
There’s a good chance that many of our readers are aware of this month’s guest, having seen his name around town or even eaten one of his meals. This month we spoke with the man often credited with bringing Neapolitan pizza to Japan: Salvatore Cuomo. You’ll find his name on a hundred restaurants and other businesses all over the country and beyond, but for the past ten years, the Japanese-Italian chef has called the Fukuoka seaside his home.
Following the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami, Salvatore and his family found themselves looking for an alternative to Tokyo. They spent months testing the waters in Hokkaido, Nagano, Okinawa, and elsewhere. Nothing felt right until a friend invited him to check out Fukuoka. He’d been to the city before on business without noticing anything special – but this time, his friend booked him into the Hilton Fukuoka Sea Hawk Hotel, in a room with a panoramic view over Hakata Bay. It was this stay that convinced him. Within just a few hours, the man who could choose anywhere in Japan or the world to live had picked Momochi.
Photo: Hilton Fukuoka Seahawk Hotel
Having grown up in Naples, Salvatore feels a special connection to the sea. That’s what drew him to Momochi: the beach is where he goes to take long walks and process his thoughts.
Meanwhile his wife and children love Central Park, where they go to enjoy the outdoors in perfect safety. And with Fukuoka International School and several large hospitals nearby, the area also ticks the family’s boxes for quality education and health services.
“Most importantly you live inside a city without feeling like you live in a city,” Salvatore says. “It’s never crowded; perhaps it’s the lack of parking spots or the cost of parking, but not many people come here.” It’s true that, despite all its attractions, Momochi is not for everyone. It’s short on convenience stores, restaurants, dry cleaners and other urban services, but as Salvatore says, “that’s why Momochi is Momochi”. “If it had all that, it would be just like any other neighborhood,” he points out, saying that the right kind of person will find it a uniquely enjoyable place to live – though it does help to have a car. Salvatore himself found it a convenient place to commute from: he often traveled to Tokyo several times a week, and overseas too. Being able to leave just an hour before your flight departs is another bonus.
Currently, Salvatore is setting up LAB3680, a new project in the fruit-growing area of Hita, Oita Prefecture, just 90 minutes from Momochi by car. Inside a renovated old building, he’s setting up a base to collaborate and experiment with other chefs while reconnecting to nature. Follow their adventures on Facebook and on Instagram
Salvatore’s hands-down favorite place for a drink or snack is Seala Brasserie and Lounge on the 4th floor of the Hilton Fukuoka Sea Hawk: “I spend a lot of time here, a lot of time!” It’s easy to see why. The airy, light-filled space is a scenic spot to meet for coffee, light meals, or cocktails.
Salvatore likes to clear his head with strolls along Momochihama’s boardwalk.
Even if you’re not playing in the sand, the beach brings out the kid in all of us.
Seala Brasserie and Lounge
The Hilton Fukuoka Sea Hawk With approximately 1,000 rooms, it’s the largest Hilton Hotel in Asia. Be sure to visit the Seahawk Galleria shopping area on the 4th floor.
4F Hilton Fukuoka Sea Hawk, 2-2-3, Jigyohama, Chuo-ku, Fukuoka
▷ Adjoins Seahawk Galleria
7:00~21:00 (L.O. 20:30) *temporarily changing business hours from April 22 to May 19. (normal hours of operation 7:00~22:00)
Seahawk Galleria, a shopping arcade with a diverse array of shops such as accessories, fashion, sundries, daily necessities, and souvenirs, is located inside the Hilton Fukuoka Seahawk seaside hotel. There’s also a 24h convenience store that can be accessed next to PayPay Dome too. It’s an ideal spot from which to explore the Momochi area.
• 2-2-3 Jigyohama, Chuo-ku, Fukuoka
• Usually 10:00 ~ 20:00 (FamilyMart / 24h)
*Hours vary for each shop due to COVID-19. (as of the end of Apr. 2021)
This website by Seahawk Galleria offers suggestions for walking tours of the Seaside Momochi area, where many of Fukuoka’s landmarks are located. Check it for information on what’s hot in Momochi now – and for ideas for a path to stroll not found in guidebooks.
Your Guide to The Latest in Momochi – Momochi Now!
Learn about all the attractions in Momochi from the well-known to the newest and lesser known.
▷Back number: https://www.fukuoka-now.com/en/momochi-now/