Although it was a rainy day, we got into Fukuoka city from Beppu easily and managed to drop the kids and ILs off before returning the car and waking back to the hotel. That night it was raining so we decided to go to a Korean-ish BBQ in the Loft department store right next to us. It was decent but I wouldn’t recommend it unless you are tired and completely rained out with no where else to go.
I had chosen the Richmond Hotel Tenjin because it was one of two hotels which I was able to find rooms with two queen size beds. In one room. They also provided a roll away bed, and we were later able to line everything up which was absolutely perfect for the five of us!
The other hotels I considered was the Nishitetsu Grand Hotel which was more expensive, and the Grand Hyatt Fukuoka, which was something like over S$400 a night. Which was just as well – I much prefer staying in Tenjin.
The hotel seemed very new, but on the day we checked in I thought the room smelled a bit musty, and when we returned after dinner I decided that I wasn’t going to be able to live with the cigarette smoke smell for another 3 nights and requested for a room change. Apparently many Japanese hotels have problems with smokers.
After a short while they came back to say they had one but would need an hour to fix it up, but before the hour was up, I went to check the room in case it was just as musty. Thankfully the room was smoke free, and to my surprise I found two ladies from the front office in the room getting together the roll away bed. I appreciated that they literally rolled up their sleeves to get the room ready for us, and throughout our stay the staff were always friendly.
That and being able to see your laundry or the machine status on the TV makes us think that this hotel is not your run of mill 3 star property and I would readily consider staying in another Richmond property again, even though I had never heard of Richmond before staying here. They also had an impressive collection of children’s classic storybooks. Although the location is slightly south of the spots that we wanted to go to, I would highly recommend it.
To counter our so-so dinner, the next day we decided to head to a tempura restaurant for lunch. Tempura Hirao Tenjin 天ぷらひらお天神 is in the same building as a cinema and you have to walk past the cinema ticketing booth to get to it. I don’t have any decent photos of the tempura because everyone just gobbled it up when it arrived.
I love hole in the wall type eateries and this one did not disappoint. My FIL liked the food and experience so much he wanted to go back the next day. It was good, but we still had much more to conquer so he had to put his OCD aside. We got there early enough and didn’t have to wait too long. This eatery has its main shop just off the airport, which was also recommended by Singapore chef Teppei-San, who is a Fukuoka native. So if you are planning to rent a car from the airport,the main store a good place to have a pit stop. Note: the Tenjin store is now CLOSED.
We had dinner was at Sushi no Hyotan ひょうたんの回転寿司, it was so good. My only regret was not having enough space after this meal to have a bowl at Ichiran. Fukuoka is where Ichiran and Ippudo started, so we certainly have to go back. Actually we have already made plans to go back!! 😀
One of the days, lunch was at Chikae 稚加榮 福岡店. Do click on their website to see more wonderful photos. This place was recommended on a few websites, but also by Teppei-san.
Chikae was our favourite meal, and a must go if you only have one meal in Fukuoka. The lunch sets are a steal! If you have a small group, go early to get a counter seat. The seafood tanks are a lovely sight to behold, and not cramped like the usual Chinese restaurant. They have eels, lobsters, a whole pool of squid, and even tuna!! Ok the tuna is not your huge 70kg kind, but still!
And then, there is the squid. Please! Order the squid done two ways! They present to you the sashimi squid and then one for you to squeeze lime on and you can still see him changing color as a muscle reflex action. It might sound gory but a nothing like octopus wriggling around in your mouth, and the kids learnt about muscle reactions.
What did I say about children’s meals being ridiculously filling?
After lunch we spent some time at Ohori Park , which has an old but quaint playground. There are plenty of locals here and many more jogging around the lake.
Having taken a breather it was time for eating again! This time we headed to Zaou Fishing Restaurant which has seating shaped like a boat, and the novelty is catching your own dinner. We got there past 6pm and I was relieved to find it mostly empty.
First we tried catching the sea bream but the fish were not interested in the bait at all. Many other patrons also didn’t have much luck, so we decided to catch mackerel and flatfish, which were in much smaller enclosures so it was much much easier to snag one.
After you catch your fish, you decide how you want it to be cooked.
We loved the flatfish fried and hard to go back and catch another fish just for the kids. It was like the best fish and chips in the world. We also loved the mackerel done two ways – sashimi and the bones fried. We also ordered some sushi and sashimi, but didn’t even finish it – we think here you should only eat what you catch and not order from the menu.
My 8 YO had seen the FIL catch the mackerel by just using the hook to hook onto the fish, so after he had his fill, he decided to try his hand at the sea bream again, resting the hook on the tank bed and then pulling it up when a fish swam over. He did this on his own accord without any suggestion from us.
And whaddaya know, my 8 year old out fished out our one and only sea bream, and the servers beat the drums, and congratulated him by name in a typical Japanese manner. Even if we couldn’t really decipher anything they were saying, it was the highlight of the whole entire trip for him. How proud he was and what a confidence booster!
On our last day, we visited Canal City, but frankly I didn’t find the shops or the mall very interesting. They do have free stroller rentals here so we were able to walk around while the 4YO had her nap. They also have a large UNIQLO and I don’t know what kind of sorcery that store is, but I can’t go to Japan and go to at least one UNIQLO store and leave empty handed. I especially love rummaging through the sales racks!
All too soon it was time to go home, and our hotel arranged a van for us for ¥5000 which we thought was reasonable given there was 7 of us with luggages and car seats and just for the convenience to be taken from door to door.
Other things we missed out on:
- One day after lunch, we decided to head to Uminonakamichi (literally, 海的中道）. It was almost an hour train ride out, but it was a good chance for the kids to get a little shut eye. We walked around a bit, but it was a little too late to go into the Marine World Aquarium, nor the Uminonakamichi Seaside Park, which looks fun to cycle around. Just next to the aquarium is Uminonakamichi Ferry port, and you can actually catch ferries to and fro Hakata here, and the journey takes less than an hour, but we had missed the last ferry.
- The Momochi area, with the Fukuoka City Museum and a Disaster Prevention Centre which teaches kids what to do in the event of an earthquake. Perhaps this area would be more accessible by car.
- Marinoa City Factory outlets
- Teppei-San’s recommendations of Gombei (or Gonbee?) yakitori, とりかわ権兵衛 春吉店 (please do your own research on the addresses in case it is out of date).
- A supposedly really famous eel place, Yoshizukaunagi 吉塚うなぎ屋 which we decided to give a miss because we’re not fans of eel…until we tried it at Teppei-san’s new eel restaurant Man Man at Keong Saik Road. Now I’m a convert for really fresh eels!!
- Hipster coffee place D&Department
…and probably lots more. We really liked Fukuoka and without a doubt we will be back one day!
Here is the rest of our Fukuoka trip that you might be interested in: