Fukuoka, the biggest city on Japan’s Kyushu Island, is famous for its culinary treats, with a wide range of restaurants offering local Hakata delicacies as well as international classics. These restaurants reveal the best of Fukuoka’s cuisine, from fine dining luxury to budget ramen and yakitori restaurants.
Opened in 1999, Restaurant Hiramatsu has been offering top quality French cuisine in Fukuoka for over a decade. Fukuoka-born head chef, Yasuhiro Mizumoto, who trained under Michelin-starred chef, Hiroyuki Hiramatsu, transforms a variety of fresh seasonal food into delectable French classics. One of their specialties is duck foie gras wrapped in savoy cabbage leaves, served with a fragrant sauce which gives the dish a traditional twist. Their friendly staff and eloquent Art Nouveau interior captures the luxurious essence of Hiramatsu’s cuisine.
Yamanaka offers authentic ‘Hakata-mae’ sushi, made with a variety of fresh seafood taken from Genkainada and Hakata bay. The chef not only handpicks the seafood himself but also makes the restaurant’s own special soy sauce. From well-selected ingredients to the presentation of dishes, their top quality food is a prime example of delectable Japanese cuisine. The modern interior of the restaurant was designed by internationally acclaimed architect Arata Isozaki, offering a distinctive contemporary take on the traditional sushi restaurant. The combination of traditional sushi made of seasonal seafood and the sophisticated atmosphere makes this an essential stop on any culinary tour of Fukuoka.
A branch of the Michelin-starred ASO Tokyo restaurant, Ristorante ASO Daikanyama opened in Fukuoka in 2011. Embodying its core concept ‘Operetta’, ASO’s restaurant offers top quality Italian food in a fine dining setting. The menu features innovative takes on Italian cuisine using the best seasonal food of the Kyushu area. One particular highlight includes deconstructed spaghetti alla puttanesca and a sautee of star anise braised beef. ASO is dedicated to satisfying all five senses, and their beautiful presentation of the dishes is consistently surprising and refreshing.
Daishizen is the best place in Fukuoka to taste quality for a reasonable price. What is remarkable about Daishizen is its wide variety of types of meat: not only chicken but also different parts of local beef, pork and horse meat. Besides yakitori, Daishizen offers sashimi using fresh seafood taken every morning from the market. A recommended dish from Dashizen is the horse meat sashimi which uses horse meat from Kumamoto, available at a far more reasonable price than in Tokyo. One of their most popular dishes, marbled-horse meat, is available for only 680 yen.
Mizutaki, a hotpot with chicken soup, is one of the traditional local dishes of Fukuoka, and Hakata Mizutaki Toriden is one of the best places to experience it. Toriden’s dense milky white soup takes stock from a home-bred chicken and combines it with local fish and vegetables as well as special ‘golden’ ponzu and yuzu pepper, which gives the soup its distinctive kick. There are three different mizutaki courses available in the restaurant, all of which serve rice porridge or ramen before the dessert to finish off the hotpot. You also enjoy a wide range of alcohol, including Kyushu’s local sake and selected wine and champagne that match well with the mizutaki.
Motsunabe, a stew with pork or beef guts, is another traditional hotpot dish of Fukuoka and has become one of the most popular dishes in the area along with ramen. Hakata Motsunabe Hakkei offers motsunabe with different flavors of soup, including soy sauce, miso and salt, although soy sauce remains the most popular in the restaurant. Their massive hotpot has motsu (guts) of black beef from Kagoshima along with plenty of vegetables such as cabbage, garlic chives and shimeji mushroom. The soup is made of authentic Japanese soy sauce with chicken stock and has a strong but elegant flavor. Besides motsunabe, Kagoshima black beef is also served broiled with salt, seared beef, and liver sashimi.
Ichiran is one of the most well-known ramen restaurants, with branches across all Japan. Employing a unique technique of soup making, they offer tonkotsu soup which brings out the essence of pork bone with an original sauce made up of more than 30 ingredients that have matured for a long time. Ichiran is also famous for the unique eating style which the restaurant requires customers to follow. Once you have entered and bought a ticket for your ramen, you will be seated at an individual counter table. It is their aim to let customers concentrate on eating and tasting their ramen rather than concentrating on conversation.
Nakasu is an area in Fukuoka which is located between Hakata River and Naka River. There are a number of shops and street stalls lined up, especially along Naka River, and it has become one of the biggest nightlife spots in Western Japan. The street stalls offer a variety of food ranging from ramen of various styles, yakitori, oden and tempura. You can enjoy this rowdy, celebratory atmosphere with nice hot food, alcohol and an enjoyable chat with a stall owner.