Unsurprisingly our first, and only full day in Fukuoka, began with a little pick me up: coffee. Coffee, or as I like to call it ‘water for insomniacs’, comes in plenty of varieties throughout the various convenience stores in Japan. Although the actual coffee choices were pretty much alike those sold anywhere else in economically developed countries, it was intriguing to select and sip a coffee produced by an unfamiliar brand. ‘Wonda Gold’ Coffee may seem luxurious, yet I brought it based on it’s uniquely textured can and the fact that it was suitably preheated – perfect for the rainy day – rather than being enticed by it’s gimmicky choice of adjectives.
As the drizzle briefly subsided, we used this as an opportunity to look at a small area near our Airbnb which was reserved for a public shrine. Despite not being an elaborate shrine which serves as a tourist attraction in addition to a place of worship for Buddhists, the feature pond was admirable with it’s vibrant orange coy fish and stone pottery containing greenery. As long as you are respectful and quiet, a shrine is a peaceful place to sit/stand from a fleeting moment to ignore social media and listen to the wind and nature.
Closer to the evening we aimed to direct ourselves into a café as we hadn’t had any good quality coffee since waiting for our departure time at Incheon Airport. ‘Tully’s’ coffee is a franchise which seemed to be everywhere – no exaggeration! (Infact a train station I went to in Osaka had six ‘Tully’s’; therefore it was regrettably an unhelpful meeting point.) So to avoid repetition we went to Starbucks. Now I know what you are thinking: Starbucks is nothing new. We selected Starbucks in the search for the seasonal drink in Japan for Springtime i.e. ‘Strawberry very much frappuccino’. The Starbucks we went to didn’t give spotlight to a poster advertising the special edition drink as standard; I assumed this meant that not every city in Japan provided the same menu. Once the initial disappointment faded of not being able to have my preferred choice of drink, I chose a Espresso Affogato Frappucino. Let’s just say if you can get your hands on a Espresso Affogato anytime soon, buy it even if you’re close to being broke. You won’t regret your ”irresponsible” purchase!
One of the most popular dishes in Fukuoka is ‘Teishoku’ – which isn’t a specific dish but the name given to dishes of a set menu; i.e. a main dish with side dishes. ‘Yayoiken’ offer countless Teishoku, which you order and pay for via a touchscreen computer system that dispenses tickets detailing you chosen dish/es and must be given to the waiter/waitress who will direct you to an ideal table before giving your order ticket to the chefs. I opted for mixed foods topped with egg (basically beef, pork cutlet and shrimp tempura in an omelette), whereas my boyfriend had miso katsu with potato bites, egg and vegetables. The main dish is presented within a hot skillet on a tray alongside bowls of miso soup, rice and a slice of tofu. I firmly insist that you try miso katsu; it has a delicious sweet savoury flavour that is incomparable to other miso flavoured cuisine.
Due to out tummies being full to the brim, we retreated to the Airbnb rather prematurely … but headed out again to ‘New York’ supermarket for dessert. I don’t know how we craved food again after dinner. What puddings are available in a Japanese supermarket and convenience store you may ask? – ”Many” would be an understatement. Here are just a few to mention: honeydew melon sundae, Matcha roll cake, castella cake, endless types of mochi, macaron ice-cream sandwiches, mont blanc cake (sponge cake with piped chestnut cream), Sakura flavoured parfait and cheese tarts.
Question of the day: Which Japanese food would you most like to try?