Friday, November 27, 2009

11/24/09: Day 5 in Japan, Part II - Yatai

On the way back from onsen, I got off the shuttle bus in Tenjin. On my agenda was to try a certain Hakata cuisine, as well as dining in yatai. Here is the bridge over Nakagawa at night.

Not too far from the bridge, I came across an izakaya called Fuurin Kazan. The kanji signifies wind, forest, fire, mountain that were seen on the battle flags, short hand for "run like the wind, quiet like the forest, attack like fire, and defend like a mountain." With such an impressive name, I figured I can't go wrong.

It was a yakitori place, run by two chefs.

I started with angel hair-like enoki mushrooms cooked in a foil...

...followed by few skeweres of chicken...

...before settling on juicy tonsoku. What's a tonsoku, you may ask? Why, it's pigs feet. Yup, you read that right, pigs feet. It's chewy and rich in collagen which is supposedly great for your skin. Not surprisingly, pigs feet are very popular among those cute little Japanese women.

Yakitori and Tonkotsu went very well with Den En (田苑) potato shochu served on the rocks.

Mext on the agenda was visiting yatai, which is a food stand. More than food carts we see in NYC, food stands include seating. Nakasu, an island located between Nakagawa rivers, has a famous yatai row but it is frequently visited by out-of-towners.

My Fukuoka-based friend recommended I stop by yatai frequently visited by the locals in the heart of the main street. However, that yatai was already full, and I was told it would take at least an hour to get a seat. Fortunately, there was another one called Kitaro right near by, with some seats to spare.

While yatai is there to serve food, the local ones offer much more than that. Because the space is enclosed, creating intimate space, it encourages interaction. The yatai visited by locals has their "regulars" that gather regularly.

Fortunately, they were quick to include me in the conversation, and I had good companions for the night.

I had their ramen with Suigei Junmai Ginjo...

...and some more yakitori with house barley shochu. While I don't remember much about the taste of the food, I will never forget the cameraderie I enjoy inside this particular yatai.

No comments: