Welcome to Fukuoka Now! Since 1998 our team of local experts have been introducing the best of Fukuoka to the world. Here are our This Month picks for the month of January, featuring Hakata Hiiragi, serving some of the best taiyaki in town; Shochu Bar Sunkujira, with a gorgeous collection of fine shochu and awamori and Acchantei, a must try for all champon lovers. Enjoy, and let us know what you think!
Taiyaki are the perfect winter treat and Hakata Hiiragi serves some of the best in town. The shop was opened in 2013 by Yoh Daichi, who learnt his craft in Tokyo. Cooked in corn oil, the taiyaki are vegan, and have a delightfully subtle taste. The batter is cooked for forty minutes (most shops do it in ten) until light and crisp, while the azuki (red bean) filling takes five hours to prepare and is restrained in its sweetness. The taiyaki are best enjoyed warm and, at only ¥140 each, are an absolute steal. Also available are mochitto taiyaki (¥170), which contain mochi powder as well as azuki.
Shochu Bar Sunkujira
Kazuki Yanagisono, Shochu Bar Sunkujira’s owner and founder, specialises in one thing: shochu, the famed Kyushuan spirit. The bar’s collection of shochu is astonishing, with a curated selection of 460 bottles occupying the shop’s back wall. 70% of these are sourced directly from distilleries in Kagoshima and potato, rice and wheat-based shochu are on offer. The bar, which is attended by the amicable Kazuki and his lovely wife, Michiyo, has a homely but modern feel, with five counter seats and a four person zashiki-style drinking area.
Acchantei specialises in Nagasaki champon, a dish that was conceived in the 19th century to feed Chinese students living in Nagasaki. The noodles are thick, occupying a sweet spot between ramen and udon, and come bathed in a soup topped with vegetables, seafood and pork. Acchantei is owned by Shuichi Nagae, who first opened the shop in Nagasaki in 1984, before moving it to its current spot in Nishijin in 1996. His mission is simple: to bring the true taste of Nagasaki champon to Fukuoka and, in that respect, he is a purist. The soup takes 10 hours to boil, starting with a chicken-stock that produces a rich-tasting, but low-fat, soup. With 200g (dry-weight) of noodles per bowl, and ten different toppings, the meal is nutrient-rich and enough to last you a day or more. Acchantei serves a variety of other dishes besides its champon, including gyoza, yakimeshi and Nagasaki oden flavored with a flying fish soup. The atmosphere is casual, and all can be enjoyed with a cool drink!
Originally published in the Fukuoka Now Magazine (fn217, Jan. 2017)