We didn’t have anything that we wanted to see between where we spent the night and Fukuoka City, so we headed straight into town, only making a brief stop to fill up at a water vending machine (¥100 for 10L).
First plan is the same as all other cities, look for an inconspicuous and convenient place to park the van, then go explore on the ‘cub. We found a large supermarket on the south-side of the city, so we parked in an out-of-the-way corner, unpacked and headed in the centre of town.
The main things that we wanted to do in Fukuoka involved food, and those foods were night time foods. We killed time by going shopping. I don’t mind shopping when it’s shopping for a purpose, but it does get repetitive when all you do is window shop. It’s not like I need anything anyway.
We went to a giant shopping centre called Canal Town, which was on the side of a canal. Odd. Inside there were all the usual shops, nothing we hadn’t seen before. It was fun looking at all the new snowboarding gear though… The only thing that made the centre remotely noteworthy was a giant hemi-spherical opening and an equally large water fountain (which played on 30minute intervals).
Risa knows someone that used to live in Fukuoka, I would say friend, but it’s more like someone that she did a few days work for. Risa asked for his recommendations about things to do here, and luckily they all involved food! First thing to sample was mutchan-manju. I didn’t have a clue what that was, so the way Risa explained it to me was, “It’s like takoyaki, but in the shape of a fish and with different fillings, like bacon/egg”. Sounded pretty good to me. We ordered: ham and egg, hamburger and curry. The ham and egg one was ready first, I took the first bite and I was treated to an explosion of mayonnaise, a tasty explosion mind you. It reminded me more of taiyaki than takoyaki. They were all delicious, so much so that I wanted to eat more, and ordered the ham and cheese, which was filled with a huge amount of cheese. All the melted cheese took me to my happy place.
We did some more walking around looking at shops, nothing that I hadn’t seen in Sapporo.
Even though it hadn’t been long since we had our late-lunch snack, we were off to get dinner, the famous Fukuoka tonkotsu ramen (pork bone Chinese noodles). Again, we were recommended a restaurant by Risa’s friend, and after his last recommendation I had high hopes. It was quite a walk, even getting lost once or twice on the way, but eventually we made it there. Risa got the standard/basic dish, and I got the deluxe one (special pork and egg). I’ve had a few bowls of ramen in my time, and I like to think that I can tell the difference between a good/bad ramen. This was like none that I’ve ever had before! The broth/soup was so thick and chunky, the noodles were quite thin and straight, and the pork was tender and charred. The meal was incredibly rich (which was probably my stomach was a bit sore afterwards) and comforting. It would be amazing after a long day of snowboarding (not likely to happen). I can’t think of superlatives. It was quite likely the best bowl of ramen that I have ever had. Ever. But, it’s was so rich that I don’t think that I could eat it that frequently. It would definitely be a special treat food, the very top tier of the healthy foods pyramid.
In Fukuoka City, there are lots of street side food vendors, kinda like what we saw in Taiwan. Not needing any more to eat (and probably not capable of eating any more), we still rode around and had a look. They looked interesting, and certainly were busy with their regular clientele. If we had room in our stomach, we would have investigated further, but it was getting late and I was slipping into a food coma.
We returned back to HMAS Delica (nearly forgot where we parked…) and headed to a michi-no-eki on top of a mountain just south of Fukuoka City in Saga Prefecture. Unquestionably ready for bed.