The Yatai Redefining the Fukuoka Food Scene
These stalls are an integral and irrestible part of the Fukuoka food scene and the yatai surviving the great law of 1995 proved rather stubborn in their ability to survive. For the last two decades the yatai have been effectively ignored, too popular to close outright but frowned upon by many in local government for their inconsistency with the order of the city.
Fukuoka’s current mayor, Sōichirō Takashima, who seems determined to become Japan’s Justin Trudeau, took a slightly different approach to his predecessors when it came to the yatai. A competition was held in 2016 to awarded licenses to twenty-eight yatai with the intention that the new stalls would open in April of 2017.
Despite their charmingly shabby exteriors, yatai can be extremely lucrative, and there was an appropriate level of scandal surrounding the competition. Six yatai were disqualified after it was found that selection criteria had been leaked by the judges (the judges weren’t corrupt, they were just too polite).
Those that did manage to apply without cheating and successfully set up shop have approached the challenge head on. The new yatai are beautiful, and most seem to have innovated (necessarily) on the standard yatai menu formula of ramen, yakitori and oden. Two of them immediately struck me as worthy of a visit, partly due to their reputation for excellent food but also because of the queues of people that seem to be perennially present outside the shops.
1. Chez Remy (レミさんチ)
Recommended: Quiche of the Day (¥500). Homemade Pumpkin Gnocchi (¥600). Escargot (¥700) | Link
2. Telas & mico
Recommended: The Sausages (homemade – ¥680). The Bruschetta (all of them): Liver Pate, Ratatouille & Mentaiko (¥350 each). The Spare Ribs (¥1,200) | Link
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