Yatai, Fukuoka

June 4, 2013

Yatai used to be found all over Japan, but they have survived best in Fukuoka where about 150 still operate. They are small street food carts that are constructed and torn down nightly. They usually have a counter looking onto a small kitchen. Kent, Linda and I did a yatai crawl the evening of March 26, 2013.

That morning Linda and I had walked along the riverbank near our hotel where yatai would be set up at dusk. It was a calm, clean setting with cherry trees in bloom giving no hint to the commotion of the evenings.
kurashiki 3 027 (480x285)

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That evening, walking down the line of yatai, we could see that some were crowded and some were empty.  All had ingredients on display.
yatai 001 (480x283)

yatai 002 (480x206) (2)

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Some smokey cooking is done outside of the yatai.

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This man just serves fish and seafood.

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It took us a while to find one that looked appealing and also had three empty seats. Its displayed ingredients looked good.
yatai 006 (480x252)

We ordered beers and gyoza, fried pork dumplings.
yatai 008 (431x480)

yatai 012 (480x251)

Then came grilled skewers of pork belly and of chicken gizzards. (We had ordered chicken livers, but these were obviously gizzards. Nonetheless, they were quite good.)
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These were followed by grilled skewers of shishito peppers, leeks and okra wrapped in bacon, all very good.
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Kent left most of these to Linda and me while he had a bowl of ramen, a Fukuoka specialty.
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It is supposed to be made with thin noodles and a rich pork bone broth, but Kent found this ramen to be very unsatisfactory so we left and cruised for another yatai.
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This one looked promising.
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At the second one we started with good, hot shrimp tempura.
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Then delicious grilled shiitake.
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Finally grilled beef tongue which was not as interesting as we had hoped.
yatai 029 (480x234)
Then there was a big brouhaha when three large men in identical pearl gray suits were squeezed next to us with two more chairs added into space that had been for one. They received VIP treatment from the chef. We left and strolled back to our hotel. 

We had enjoyed a fascinating evening with some delicious food.

2 Responses to “Yatai, Fukuoka”

  1. sue girdwood Says:

    Mike — What a wonderful experience! Takes the whole idea of street food to a new level. The cherry blossom by day and the lanterns in the evening so very pretty and some food that looked really delicious! ENVY! (I wonder if you found out who the three large men in identical pearly suits were?) I enjoy your posts very much.

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