Friday, September 2, 2011

Hakata Yatai - Fukuoka, Japan

My Best Experience in Fukuoka
Fukuoka is known for ramen, but they also have famed street stalls called Yatai.  They're no larger than a picnic table and you sit elbow to elbow on attached wooden benches and gobble freshly made, tasty street food.  We happened into this one as we got lost trying to find our hotel and came back for dinner.  Dodo dragged her feet a bit - she mumbled about not immediately getting to eat ramen.  After a few bites she stopped complaining.  Every thing we ate was good, especially the tightly rolled tamago, dolloped with a local delicacy - Mentaiko, a marinated pollock roe.
Most yatai in Hakata are clustered together but this one stood alone on a busy street in the CBD.  Minutes after we sat down the skies opened up and dropped buckets of water.  That white tarp on the right saved me from getting completely soaked.  During the storm it was just the two of us and the two owners.  It was quite cozy.
Check it out for yourself, I took a short video during the storm.
video

This was the first thing we ordered - a pork sausage and skewer of fatty pork.  Both awesome but the pork skewer was slightly better, it had smokey, salty, fatty taste.  The kind of taste that yells "this is BAD for you" but you don't care, you order another round.
More pork.  This one a quasi pork-kimchi salad with scallion.  Damned good.  I'm glad my chopstick skills have improved or I probably would've gotten aced out by the old lady, she was wolfing this down, smiling with her full chipmunk cheeks and complimenting the owners in Japanese (or at least it sounded like Japanese to me.)
This is the kind of experience I long for when I travel.  Unplanned, spur of the moment, slightly quirky, with a huge downpour thrown in for good measure.
Yes, we ate the famous ramen and it was good, but as I look at this photo of the roof inside the yatai, pinned with decades of yellowed business cards, I cannot help but smile.  I truly enjoyed it - it was a one of a kind experience.

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6 comments:

  1. Unadventurous Puff...September 4, 2011 at 11:16 PM

    Got to say I enjoyed this very much too... the raining cats and dogs made it more memorable for us. Of course plus the fact that the food was good. Never had that pork kimchi with egg fried combo... so that was a big plus!

    Yes.. and this was all your idea!! Thanks babe!

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  2. @Dopeventurous Puffin - I get credit!!!!

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  3. i so want to eat the eggs...pirate

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  4. @Pirate - they're only an 8hr flight and 6hr train ride away.....

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  5. It's like the Asian "dai pai dong". Love it. When I was a kid in HK, we'd feast on seafood galore cooked with great "wok hei", something that can't be replicated at home. Did you come across any warabi mochi cart in the dead of the night?

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  6. @Kim - yep, exactly. No fancy place ever beats these type of food carts. Didn't see any mochi carts....

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