Both locals and tourists alike praise Chikae Fukuoka as one of the best seafood restaurants in the city. The restaurant’s large interior offers counter and table seating surrounded by massive fish tanks, where diners can see their fresh meals still swimming. The restaurant’s lunch set offers the best value, including a combination of soup, sashimi, seasoned vegetables, tempura, grilled fish, chawan-mushi (steamed egg), and rice. The restaurant is also known for its mentaiko which is marinated spicy cod roe, a Fukuoka speciality, which is best enjoyed with the rice. English menus are available and servers dress in traditional Japanese kimonos.
Chikae Fukuoka, 2-2-17 Daimyo, Chuo-ku, Fukuoka, Japan, +81 92-721 4624
Hakata Mizutaki Toriden is known for its exceptional mizutaki, a chicken-based hot pot dish popular in Fukuoka. The restaurant blends homebred chicken, local fish and vegetables, signature ‘golden’ ponzu and yuzu pepper to create the mizutaki’s characteristically milky soup base. Several different set menus are available, featuring additional dishes like chicken tempura, katsuo sashimi, and boiled egg served with spicy miso. Dinners can complete their meal with a choice of rice porridge or ramen, followed by a small dessert.
Hakata Ramen, also known as tonkotsu, is one of the most famous dishes to originate in Fukuoka, and Taiho Ramen is among the most popular places in the city to enjoy a bowl of it. The restaurant’s ramen recipe has been passed down for generations; in fact, it’s said that their cooking pot has never been fully emptied since the restaurant opened in 1953, allowing the ramen’s flavour to become more complex and rich over time. The ramen broth is creamy comfort food at its best, complimented by thin homemade noodles. Like most ramen restaurants, Kurume Taiho Ramen’s interior is low-key and simple, attracting diners with its outstanding ramen rather than its décor.
Kurume Taiho Ramen, 11-8, Torihokamachi, Kurumeshi, Fukuoka, Japan, + 81 942 33 9881
Ume no Hana is a locally-owned chain of vegetarian restaurants specializing in tofu-based dishes. The restaurant offers a number of creative dishes that highlight the versatility of this simple ingredient. Try the yudofu – tofu cooked with pure water from Ureshino onsen – or the yuba – tofu with soy sauce, sesame seeds and ginger. The dishes are all complemented by a variety of seasonal vegetables and seafood. The restaurant’s interior is relaxed yet traditional, with a dining room overlooking a tranquil Japanese garden and seating offered at low tables. Be sure to finish your meal with the restaurant’s sweet soybean ice cream topped with roasted soybean powder.
Yamanaka serves exceptional sushi in a sleek, modern setting. The restaurant’s ultra-fresh seafood is sourced from the Genkai Sea and Hakata Bay. This buttery sushi is complemented by Yamanaka’s signature soy sauce and distinct rice mixed with black vinegar. The restaurant’s sophisticated interior is a perfect match for its high-quality sushi. The dramatic high ceilings and light wood countertop were designed by renowned architect Arata Isozaki, who is known for creating a number of other public works around Kyushu. The meal is best concluded with a serving of refreshing green tea ice cream or lemon sorbet.
Yamanaka, 2-8-8 Watanabe doori, Chuo-ku, Fukuoka, Japan, +81 92 731 7771
Zaou is a popular seafood restaurant with numerous branches around Fukuoka. Diners sit in a massive boat surrounded by an aquarium filled with a variety of fish. The restaurant provides fishing rods, bait and nets, allowing guests to catch their own meal for the evening. To add to the excitement, the staff bang on drums and applaud when a catch is made and the restaurant provides a discount for those who are successful. After catching the fish, diners are able to choose how to have it prepared. Grilling or frying the fish is an option, but most take advantage of the fish’s extreme freshness and opt for sashimi. The restaurant’s concept might be kitschy but the experience is undeniably entertaining.
Zauo, 1-4-15 Nagahama, Chuo-ku, Fukuoka, Japan, + 81 92 716 9988