Like all Japanese cities, Fukuoka is full of restaurants. From riverside street food stalls frequented by salarymen, to brunch spots full of teenage girls, food is absolutely everywhere. These are our best discoveries:
Ok, I'm going to start with my favourite. If you only have one day, or one hour, head here. Chikae is a Fukuoka institution and has been open since the 1960s. The restaurant is set around big fish tanks where the chefs catch and prepare the fish, and waitresses shuffle around in their kimonos. There are two set meals, soba noodles and sashimi. We had the sashimi every time because it was just too good not to. The lunch sets are ¥1400 (double that in the evenings), and include sashimi, tempura, crab miso, pickles, rice, vegetables, silken tofu and chawanmushi (a savoury egg custard that is much better than it sounds). Absolutely everything was fresh and this was one of our very favourite meals in Japan.
Ichiran is a nationwide chain of ramen restaurants, but Fukuoka is where it all started. Select the dish you want at the vending machine outside and then take a seat at the counter. Hand your voucher to the chef through the curtain and a few minutes later you'll be handed back a delicious bowl of ramen. It's fun, fast and, at ¥750 for a huge bowl of tonkotsu ramen, great value for money.
I mentioned in my last post how much we loved D&Department. The restaurant is smart, the staff are friendly and the food is such good quality, think European dishes with a Japanese twist. Their lunch sets are incredible value at ¥1450 for the dish of the day, soup, salad and coffee or tea. The shop is worth browsing after lunch, it's full of local products and they even make their own guidebooks.
Gorm's is a Scandinavian pizza place with just this one franchise outside of Denmark (apparently a Japanese businessman ate there while on a trip and fell in love with it). The courtyard is perfect on a sunny day and lunch sets are ¥1800 for a pizza, salad and drink. I had mine with prawns, arugula, dill and artichoke puree. Delicious, fresh ingredients on a thin and crispy base.
We love a dumpling (or ten) and Temujin, a busy lunch spot inside the train station, has good ones. Again, we went for a lunch set (always eat a bigger meal for lunch if you're on a budget in Japan, it's much cheaper than dinner) at ¥1200 for gyoza, miso, rice, pickles, meatballs.
Eggs 'n' things
A good breakfast is kind of hard to find in Japan. Most cafes and coffee shops open around midday, so if you're an early riser and looking for something more than a snack from the bakery, there aren't too many options. Eggs 'n' Things, a popular Hawaiian breakfast chain, opens at 9am and serves up every type of egg dish you can imagine, as well as pancakes and waffles. This might not quite stand up to the breakfast options you get back home, but if you're after a leisurely brunch spot, this is the place to go.
Japan has some great bakeries, and La Spiga was our favourite in Fukuoka. A traditional Italian bakery near Ohiri Park that serves up sweet and savoury pastries, and sandwiches, with a cafe area too. Pastries are around ¥200 and sandwiches are ¥350.
There are about 150 yatai stalls scattered around Fukuoka and they serve up a variety of traditional dishes, from yakitori and gyoza to ramen. Dishes are around ¥200–500 and all freshly prepared in the tiny cooking area. We had a great night in Mami Chan's (one of the only yatai where a little English is spoken) chatting with locals and stuffing ourselves with local delicacies.
If you're planning a trip to Fukuoka, check out my guide on things to do.