Sampling The Best Of Japan In A One-Night Fukuoka Food Trip
Love Japanese? Bring your friends and family, and experience a whole new level of Japanese cuisine in this one-night food trip around Fukuoka Japan with Sandy Daza.
Food trip tip: Fukuoka is best experienced on foot at night, when the food stalls start to open shop. Make sure to wear comfortable clothing and bring walking shoes.
There is nothing more Japanese-y than a bowl of good, piping hot ramen. And when in Fukuoka, there is only one place to go to satisfy all your ramen cravings.
Ramen Stadium is a food hall of sorts that’s home to all kinds of ramen. It serves to highlight different kinds of ramen since each prefecture in Japan has a specific ramen specialty, from the kind of broth to the noodles that they use.
For the season 6 of Food Prints, Sandy brings his foodie group to Shodai Hide-chan, one of the most popular places inside Ramen Stadium. Shodai Hide-chan is home to what Sandy calls the “Best Ramen in Town,” which has a tonkotsu broth and a nice big slice of Kurobota pork.
The Kurobota pork is a great choice for ramen since it has a lot of marbling, which means there are layers of fat hidden inside the meat strands. This makes every bite tender and melting in your mouth. Complementing the juicy pork neck is the rich pork tonkotsu broth and Hakata noodles, which are straight and thin-cut noodles.
Add to your ramen experience their unique ordering system, where you can choose your order via a vendo-like machine. Sandy says that when in doubt, always choose the item in the top most left corner of the screen, because that’s usually the best-seller of that restaurant.
Five minutes from the best ramen in town is the best gyoza in town—and it’s located at at the Nakasu food strip along the Naka river in downtown Fukuoka. This strip has always been an entertainment district since Japan’s Edo era, and the vibrant atmosphere has been preserved until today.
A number of food stalls line the Nakasu food strip, but for the best gyoza in town, head to Takechan, a stall that has been making and serving gyoza for 50 years now.
Their gyoza are bite-sized and made-to-order, so you’re sure that they’re fresh and hot. The gyoza features a perfect play of textures—from the bite from the steamed wrap, crunch from the toasted sides, and the nice rich ground pork filling. Pair it with the acidic vinegar and you’re in gyoza heaven.
Take note that the lines can be long—but Sandy assures that the long wait is worth it.
Chicken hot pot
End your night win an eye-popping multi-course meal that culminates with a hearty and traditional chicken hot pot at Hakata Hanamidori.
Hakata Hanamidori is the more formal destination of the night, encouraging guests to take off their shoes before they enter the dining area filled with chabudai, or short-legged tables used in traditional Japanese homes, and tatami mats instead of chairs.
The meal starts with a colorful and beautiful appetizer set that’s composed of green pea tofu, stewed chicken with apples, Brussel sprouts and grape seed blossoms with sesame sauce, boiled prawn and cauliflower, and uri and smoked salmon with vinegar jelly.
There’s also Chicken Sashimi, although don’t be scared to try it because it’s not really raw chicken. The chicken is cured and smoked, then cut into thin slices, which Sandy notes tastes like smoked salmon.
The star of the night, of course, is the Mizutaki or the chicken hot pot. The broth is made from kelp and water, before the chicken, tofu, and various vegetables are added.
Eat it with ponzu vinegar for a hearty soup experience that warms the tummy and the soul.
Watch Sandy Daza’s food tour of Japan on the Season 6 of Food Prints, returning to Metro Channel, channel 52 on Sky Cable and channel 174 on HD. Catch fresh episodes on Mondays, 7 p.m., and replays throughout the week.