Ramen is one of Japan’s most-loved dishes. Perhaps the most well-known food to come out of Fukuoka is Hakata ramen. Hakata ramen is a local ramen dish that features thin noodles in a thick, creamy tonkotsu soup, topped with slices of chashu. The soup is made by boiling bones from every part of the pig for a gelatinous stock with a powerful scent and flavor. Moreover, Hakata ramen is a distinct type of ramen with pork bone broth and thin straight egg noodles. It has become one of the most popular styles of ramen, not only in Japan but around the world.
Mentaiko is the spicy and salted version of tarako, is a common Japanese dish that can be found nationwide especially in supermarkets and many specialty shops sell packaged mentaiko products like mentaiko mayonnaise. Mentaiko can also be used as an ingredient for cooking, such as mixed with cream for a pasta sauce or used as a topping for pizza and other dishes. Mentaiko is also a common seasoning in snacks and mentaiko-infused food souvenirs are very popular among tourists.
Another of the best Fukuoka foods, which has become popular across Japan is motsunabe, a hot pot (nabe) dish made with beef or pork giblets (motsu). Made using beef or pork intestines, chopped cabbage, garlic and chives which are cooked in a large pot at the table. The inexpensive, slightly spicy stew is usually cooked at the table on portable burners and served together with a bowl of white rice. Noodles or additional rice may be added to the leftover soup in the pot at the end of the meal to finish the dish.
Gyoza are pan-fried, Chinese style dumplings, which are typically stuffed with a mixture of ground pork, cabbage and green onions. While gyoza appears on the menus of ramen-ya, izakaya and other restaurants nationwide, they are also a popular Fukuoka specialty where they are served in large batches on ceramic or hot iron plates. Fukuoka, or Hakata, style gyoza can be found at specialty gyoza shops around the city, especially around Hakata Station.
Thick Hakata udon noodles are made with local wheat flour and cooked until soft while retaining a dense, chewy center. Noodles are served in a gently sweet broth made with bonito (skipjack tuna), sardines, kombu kelp, and dried seaweed. Common toppings include plenty of sliced Hakata green onion and goboten. Goboten is shredded gobo (burdock root) that has been battered and fried tempura-style until crisp, which is why another name for Hakata udon is “goboten udon”.
Mizutaki is another classic Fukuoka food, comprising a hot pot dish made with Kyushu’s native jidori chicken. Although hot pot is typically a winter dish in Japan, mizutaki can be enjoyed all year round. Free-range chicken on the bone is simmered gently in a flavored broth, along with Hakata green onions and seasonal vegetables. As the chicken bones release their collagen, the broth becomes rich and silky smooth. The cooked chicken is then served and eaten with citrusy ponzu sauce.
One of Fukuoka’s signature food is definitely Hakata Torimon. Staying true to Fukuoka being a blend of historical Japanese culture and modern Western influence, it is a pastry that combines the best of both worlds. The rich butter and milk are put together with traditional sweet beans, leaving you craving for more. This manju has proved itself to be one of the must-eat in Fukuoka and even makes a good souvenir to bring back.