Friday, December 28, 2012
It’s almost criminal not to eat Fugu in Fukuoka, which is a local specialty. And the reason for that is that it is criminal not to be licensed and serve the poisonous puffer of a fish. And so it is said that eating Fugu is like dicing with death and the price of a Fugu meal is commensurate with the years of training a chef requires before passing the requisite examinations to be licensed. While I’ve never experienced it, some say that there is a slight tingle after consumption that is reminiscent of the numbness one feels after having been poisoned by Fugu or rather tetradoxin, the chemical in the Fugu’s innards, which causes death.
We asked the hotel for a recommendation, not having done much homework prior. We were told they couldn’t make reservations yet as the restaurant wasn’t open for the day yet. The taxi driver who took us to the doorstep of Teraoka, only to discover it was shut for Christmas Day, kindly drove us to a local joint called Kaji, who according to its website, has been in existence since 1959.
The main area had a boat like structure filled with live seafood although I didn’t see any puffer fish. No English is spoken but they have a limited English menu and you can get by on sign language (ie. just point and don’t ask).
First up: warm up with a Sake with a torched fin of the puffer fish. No tingles here and didn't taste of much other than someone dropping a piece of seafood into your alcohol by accident. Wasn’t bad but the combination wasn’t what it was made out to be.
I opted for a light course (having eaten all day, surprise surprise).
Sashimi of Fugu is a little chewier than other sashimi. But the chewing, if prolonged, allows you to taste the sweetness of the fish, provided you go easy on the addictive Ponzu sauce, that accompanies it.
The tempura course had but one piece of Fugu tempura which was quite tasty. The texture breaks down with heat to be a little more cottony but retaining a little bounce, so it was actually quite good.
To finish, I had a porridge made with pieces of Fugu and a fish stock. With an egg broken over it and finsihed with spring onions and Nori flakes, it was pretty much comfort food to the finish line, and in my book, the most satisfying way to eat Fugu.
The Fugu hotpot definitely makes my list of to-dos, cos you know what, I lived to tell this tale.
博多割烹 かじ 本店
２丁目-３-１１Nakasu, Hakata Ward, Fukuoka,
Fukuoka Prefecture 810-0801
Thursday, December 27, 2012
As I’ve always said and tweeted many times over: Ramen and coffee are best friends. In my book anyways. There’s something very satisfying about the combination and in that order of course. While everyone knows there’s good ramen to be had in Fukuoka, I wasn’t so sure about the coffee scene and whether coffee bars were as commonplace as in the bigger cities I’ve visited.
But first things first: a visit to Ichiran. One of the meccas of ramen in Fukuoka with many branches over Kyushu.
It’s not a full service restaurant so you literally have to get a meal ticket from the vending machine out front, then join the queue. Once it’s your turn the greeter shows you to your seat and then all you deal with is a pair of hands behind a curtain that unveils into the kitchen. You hardly see the server because there is no real need to. This is serious business where even if you come as a party, you eat individually, in your own little cubicle no less.
Fill out your preferences including strength of noodles to the garnishes and whether you need a Kaetama (an extra serving of noodles for your leftover soup).
That wondrous bowl arrives a few minutes later and then any chatter dies down, only to be replaced by slurps, oohs and aahs. Yes, it is a delicious concoction of rich but ungreasy stock made from pork bones, then consumed with very al dente noodles (iron and steel tensile strength), tender and thinly sliced pork shoulder and given a little kick with a lot of spring onions and their special chili sauce.
Even despite the language barrier, they were excitedly talking about us and the fact that they had visitors all the way from Singapore. (We assume all good since we heard Singapore like 7 times in 30 minutes). And so helpful were they that they even tried to find us our dinner venue on their iPad. Guess we do need these great gadgets to bridge communication gaps afterall!
|Join the queue|
|Vending machine for noodles|
|A little homework before you get your grub|
|The reason we came here|
|Le Petit Prince menu|
|The wowzer of a strawberry cream cake|
Monday, December 24, 2012
|Canal City Mall|
I can't remember the last time I spent Christmas away from home. A little odd especially since Fukuoka isn't actually known for its Christmas spirit, although there no short of Christmas lights at Canal city, which sits on the bank of the river that runs through the city. Landing in sunshine did little to take away the bite of the cold except being able to wear cool shades almost anywhere, well until about 5.30 when it starts to get dark.
Fukuoka is exciting for the local cuisine that it is famous for, most notably Hakata ramen (more on that later when I actually get out to try some).
|Black sugar plum wine|
It's going to be a cold Christmas but the food here in Fukuoka should do wonders to warm things up, especially at a Yatai (street vendor)?