Asia, Japan

Japan 3.0: Day 4 (Fukuoka)

We started off the day late after having a late night last night, which was fine because the pancake place we wanted to go to was not open until 10am. We slowly made our way over to Happy Pancake, where they serve big fluffy pancakes. When we arrived, we were seated right away but by the time we left, there was a long line of at least 20 people going down the stairs! I had the original Happy Pancake, which was served with super liquid honey as well as a very light and airy whipped butter. It was as amazing as it looked. Aaron had the black tea version with a tea sauce. This was also very unique and delicious.

Canal City: Fukuoka’s Mega Mall

After our scrumptious breakfast, we walked to Canal City, the famous shopping complex with a water fountain show as its centre piece. We did some more shopping and really loaded up on essential items like cardigans (for me) and shorts (for Aaron). There were storage lockers so we were able to put down our bags before exploring some more. There was also an arcade as well as a kids play area. Across the centre strip was the Grand Hyatt hotel with a really nice open cafe area. 

Ramen Stadium

We were getting hungry so we stopped at the Ramen Stadium to try some Kurume ramen. Kurume is the birthplace of Tonkotsu ramen. There were a few Hakata stands as well but they were very busy with long lines. This ramen definitely looked less cloudy and tasted lighter but at the same time pretty tasty.

After Lunch Observations

After lunch, we passed by a shop which sold croissant taiyaki, so of course we had to get some. We relaxed in the outdoor seating area while Aaron questioned why anyone would get regular taiyaki since the croissant ones are so much better. At that time, in the central area of the mall, there were these young female performers dancing in short skirts surrounded by fans who were dancing along and who were mainly middle-aged men. This was a very interesting sight to say the least. Perhaps maybe even a little disturbing.

Fancy Coffee

Our feet were getting tired, so we took a coffee break at Tokado Coffee over at the upscale Hakata Riverain to try some of their award winning coffee. It was a pretty intimidating experience for me given I am not a coffee connoisseur, like Aaron. The beans are ground to order. They only had counter seating so you can watch the barista meticulously make the drip coffee in front of you. The whole experience was very therapeutic. I had the lightest coffee bean, which was described as “tea-like” and Aaron had one of their Hakata-exclusive coffee. He enjoyed it so much, he even bought some beans to go.

Walk in the Park

After some fancy coffee, we bus over to Ohori Park and took a nice stroll along their paths around the central pond. The surrounding architecture is also very beautiful, including a very nice Starbucks. We then walked over to the Fukuoka Castle Ruins and noted a large picnic field and reserved BBQ area. They had very nice looking BBQ platforms with equipment for rental. It was a Sunday and it was nice to see many locals out and about, spending time with friends and family. The walk along the castle ruins was very nice. There was hardly anyone at the site so it was a very leisurely visit for us. We walked up to the lookout and got a nice view from the top.

Motsunabe Time!

After all the walking, we took the subway back to Tenjin station for dinner. The food of choice for tonight was motsunabe or pig offal hot pot, a popular local dish. We went to Rakutenchi. Apparently it’s one of the OG motsunabe restaurants. I really liked the ambience. There was bar seating on the first floor and traditional seating on the 2nd floor. We appeared to be the only foreigners in the restaurant, which was always a good sign. They had an English menu though so it was all good. We chose the set meal with Zanmai Set Menu with seasoned offals for appetizer, tofu, hotpot and unlimited champon noodles. This place reminded me of the negi sukiyaki place we went to in Kyoto. Not only is the ambience similar, the hotpot was also completely stacked with chives and cabbage. It not only looked amazing but it also tasted delicious as well. The offals itself was a bit chewy but I was very excited when I got to eat the little pieces of liver which were few and far between. Once we were were almost done, we asked for the noodles which went so well with the super flavourful broth by this point. The noodles were definitely unique as they had the thickness between ramen and udon. We enjoyed it so much we asked for a second serving. It was a mistake because I felt super full after that. Aaron apparently was not, because he wanted to pick up some Bake Cheese Tart from the nearby underground shopping center before they closed at 9:00pm. The current time was 8:52pm. We had spotted it earlier this morning and luckily we were able to locate it again before closing.

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