We visited the city of Fukuoka for two reasons:
- It’s an easy gateway to South Korea (our next stop)
- The ramen
You might think we’d had our fill of ramen by this point. You would be wrong. We now know that it’s impossible to get sick of ramen.
Fukuoka takes its ramen seriously. It was the birthplace of the very popular tonkatsu style of ramen, the creamy broth of which is made from pork bones simmered so long that they completely break down. Ichiran, the famous tonkatsu ramen spot with outposts all over Japan (and recently opened in NYC), started in Fukuoka. And, of course, it has Ramen Stadium, which is an entire floor of ramen shops that represent different styles from all over Japan.
Being that this was our final destination in Japan and knowing that we wouldn’t have the pleasure of eating real Japanese ramen for quite a while, we went all out.
Ramen Kurume Hondashouten
First stop, Ramen Stadium, where we tried Kurume-style ramen at Ramen Kurume Hondashouten. Kurume is a city near Fukuoka, which (not surprisingly) has its own style of ramen. It is tonkatsu ramen, but even more pungent. Not gonna lie… this bowl of ramen smelled funky. But oh was it ever delicious. It’s actually much lighter in taste than it smells or looks.
Next up, traditional Hakata-style ramen at Shin-Shin. Hakata is a neighborhood in Fukuoka (and super important tip – if you’re ever taking the train to Fukuoka, buy a ticket to Hakata lest you’ll end up on the other side of the country). Hakata-style ramen is tonkatsu ramen – the aforementioned Ichiran specializes in this style. The broth is creamy and the noodles are very thin and straight (there are so many different types of ramen noodles!!!). Shin-Shin is another super famous ramen spot in Fukuoka. Its original shop sees insanely long lines all hours of the day. Lucky for us it now has other outposts throughout the city, including one in the KITTE mall attached to Hakata Station.
Our third bowl of ramen during our time in Fukuoka was back at Ramen Stadium. This time we tried a completely different style at Menya Houten: shoyu. This type of ramen is made with a soy sauce base. This particular ramen is black in color because of that. It was pretty tasty and a good change of pace.
For our final ramen in Fukuoka and Japan (gasp!) we went to another well-known place called Kurume-Taiho. We had enjoyed our first bowl of Kurume-style ramen so much, we wanted to try one more before we left. And this place has quite a story. According to legend, since they opened in 1953 their ramen broth pot has never been left empty. The ramen you eat today has been simmering for 63 years. Okay so we’ll admit, we didn’t actually go to that shop. We found another outpost again in the KITTE mall. But in our hearts, when they opened the new shop they brought a little bit of the broth with them. We tried two different styles – their original and a spicier, garlickier version. They were both delicious, although the latter was a little much… especially for breakfast!
While our favorite ramen in Japan still remains the bowl of sesame ramen we ate at ABC in Ginza, the Kurume ramen at Ramen Kurume Hondashouten was probably our second favorite of the whole trip. It’s definitely worth another visit to Fukuoka to confirm our findings.
The rest of the city
There are, of course, things to do in Fukuoka other than eat ramen. From what we saw, it seems like a diverse, vibrant city. Yes, we spent some of our time in malls like Canal City (the home of Ramen Stadium) and KITTE, but that’s true to the Japanese experience. Locals love malls and some of the best food can be found in them. We also explored a couple of the city’s shrines, a building with a forest growing on it, and a large park with the remains of Fukuoka Castle.