As one of the closest cities to the Asian mainland, Fukuoka has developed a unique and interesting food culture that has been influenced by Korean and Chinese cuisine. Some Fukuoka dishes, such as Hakata Ramen and motsunabe, have swept Japan by storm and become widely popular across the country.
Anyone would do right to try these dishes on their home turf, and the local specialties are probably best sampled at one of the popular yatai food stalls found around the city. But there are also countless atmospheric restaurants in Fukuoka especially around downtown Tenjin, the Nakasu entertainment district and Hakata Station where some nice restaurants are located on the upper dining floors of the station building.
Hakata Ramen is a local ramen dish that features thin noodles in a thick, creamy tonkotsu soup, topped with slices of chashu. Some of the best places to enjoy Hakata Ramen are the city's emblematic yatai food stalls. Hakata Ramen can also be found at any of the numerous ramen-ya in Fukuoka, especially around Hakata Station.
Mentaiko, the spicy version of salted cod roe (tarako), is a common Japanese food that can be found nationwide accompanying rice or alcohol, used as filling for rice balls, or as a seasoning in pasta dishes. Mentaiko is particularly famous in Fukuoka, where it originated by way of Korea, and is a typical menu item at the yatai food stalls and izakaya around the city where it is usually served raw or lightly seared.
Motsunabe is a local hot pot dish typically made up of beef or pork tripe, cabbage, garlic, chives and togarashi peppers in a soy sauce or miso based soup. 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 appear 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.