Was there for four days w/ my gf in April. Wow, what a great food city. Some highlights:
1) Hakata Daruma -- great tonkastu ramen. Loved the whole cloves of garlic w/ a garlic press on each of the wooden tables. Cute little place w/ young vibe. We (my gf and i) prefered it to Ichiran, although that was tasty too.
2) Hidden Kitchen (or: Kakure Daidokoro Hisa Okaya)...okay, this is one of my new favorite restaurants on the planet. A small, somewhat upscale counter-only place w/ good shochu selection. Best anago and bamboo shoot tempura i've ever had. Chu-toro sashimi that was better than any o-toro i can remember elsewhere. Kagoshima black pork salad w/ w/ lightly dressed greens and sweet tomatoes. Fugu kara age. Each dish outdid the next. We were stunned and delighted and the staff were sweet too. An absolute Chowhoundy winner, really deserving of a post all its own.
3) Kikka...another upscale izakaya. Trendier vibe than Hidden Kitchen (where its more about the food) but some delicious negi&jako salad and some aji sashimi w/ homemade yuzukosho. Stellar shochu selection w/ great suggestions from the bartender.
4) Tempura-ya (aka Aki-chan's place)...a yatai on the northern port/Nagahama area. The only one on the block that does tempura so easy enough to find. Another knockout meal w/ ika, kibinago, and fugu tempura being the standouts. Also fine oden: especially the iwashi tsumire (like a giant fishy yummy sardine meatball) and the giant daikon.
The only downer of the trip foodwise was Sushi Ueda, where we had an overpriced, mediocre sashimi&sushi lunch that was almost but not quite redeemed by a nice piece of cooked, miso-marinated snapper.
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