Before making our way back to Tokyo (where we are now), Mike and I decided to stop in Fukuoka, Hiroshima, and Seoul. First stop: Fukuoka. In case you don’t know anything about Fukuoka, it’s Japan’s 6th largest city, and Monocle magazine rated it as the 12th most liveable city in the world in 2012.
However, I mostly wanted to go to Fukuoka because it’s the home of my favourite ramen — Hakata ramen. Hakata (or tonkotsu) ramen is made by boiling pork bones forever, which results in a milky, fatty, porky broth. That doesn’t sound like something I’d like (I’m not really a meat fan), but there’s something about the delicious creaminess of tonkotsu ramen that I really love.
So we got on the shinkansen and we were off to Fukuoka for some ramen!
Here comes the shinkansen.
As with every train journey, I had to get myself an ekiben (train bento box).
Mike’s version of an ekiben: some kind of sandwich.
We stayed at Hotel Active in Fukuoka. I give it a thumbs up — it’s very close to Hakata Station (important since we had an early train out of Fukuoka two days later) and the (free!) breakfast is great. Plus it was cheap, had free wifi, free coffee/tea machines on every floor, AND free washing machines, which is very rare for any kind of hotel. The website (and booking process) is only in Japanese but they do speak a little bit of English at the hotel. The rooms are tiny, but this is Japan and hotel rooms are always tiny.
First stop: HAKATA RAMEN. This was a Fukuoka chain called Ikkousha, but it was soooo good.
Mike’s chashu ramen was… kind of insane.
The second best thing about Hakata ramen (the first is that it’s DELICIOUS) is that it often comes with Hakata gyoza. Hakata gyoza is basically mini gyoza, which I love love love. I hate places with gigantic gyoza that require like seventeen bites to finish.
JR Hakata City in Hakata Station is a MASSIVE shopping complex.
Walking along the river the next morning.
Mike and his Moomin friends at Canal City.
Maizuru Park, which contains the ruins of Fukuoka Castle.
Maizuru Park has up warning signs for the redback spider, which is like the Australian version of the black widow spider. You know, a SPIDER THAT CAN KILL YOU. Wikipedia says: In 2008, redback spiders were found in Fukuoka, Japan. Over 700 have been found near the container terminal in Hakata Bay, Fukuoka City. Warning signs about redback spiders have been posted in parks around the city, as Japan has had no dangerous venomous spiders before now. So thanks a lot for that, Australia.
Ohori Park, a very pretty park with a lake in the centre. But it ALSO apparently has redback spiders. Earlier this year, one was lurking in a vending machine in the park, and when a man reached inside to grab his drink it bit him and he was hospitalized. Needless to say, I did not use the vending machines in Ohori Park. But other than the deathly spider threat, it’s a beautiful place.
Mike is pleased whenever he finds a hotdog truck.
We decided to ride a swan boat on the lake.
The island in the middle of the lake.
We found a random food truck selling what is essentially an onigiri covered in meat.
But it has a cute dinosaur mascot!
If you’ve ever had the thought I like onigiri but it would be better if the nori was replaced by meat and it was topped with mayonnaise, then this is the food for you. It also (unsurprisingly?) comes in a version slathered with cheese.
Ichiran ramen! Ichiran is a tonkotsu ramen chain with shops all over Japan, but it’s originally from Fukuoka. It has kind of a weird system — everyone sits at individual partitioned booths, and you order through a window so you never even see your server. The process is detailed in English on their website if you’re interested. Their ramen is pretty good but not my favourite tonkotsu.
Fukuoka was mostly about eating. After getting a little ramen-ed out, it was time for a meal of nice raw seafood.
My Hokkaido bowl of REALLY YUMMY SEAFOOD, topped with a shiso leaf and some uni (sea urchin). Heavenly.
Mike’s bowl of local Fukuoka fish.
And then… more food. Not even Fukuoka food. Okinawan food! Mike is obsessed with goya champura, so we couldn’t resist.
Rafute (pork belly).
Okay, I think that’s enough with the food photos for one entry. This is making me hungry for tonkotsu ramen. Remind me to tell you guys about the really awesome tonkotsu place in my Shibuya neighbourhood sometime. In the next entry: more Fukuoka food and more ramen!