Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Motsunabe Treat in Fukuoka

During our brief stay in Fukuoka, we tried Motsunabe for the first time at a place called Motsunabe Yamanaka, one of the better known restaurants in town specialized in this local delicacy dish.

It may sound a bit too stereotypical, but generally speaking traditional Kyushu cuisine was more rustic and down-to-earth - just think Tonkotsu Ramen, probably the most famous Kyushu export, or food served at yatai, street-side stalls common in Fukuoka in the evenings. I suppose same can be said about Motsunabe, which literally means offal hotpot (specifically, cow intestines) cooked in broth at the table with vegetables, a traditional dish said to be originated in Fukuoka.

While most Motsunabe restaurants - those in Fukuoka or elsewhere - were more casual in style, Motsunabe Yamanaka, with both of its two branches in Fukuoka, is certainly fancier than others and probably one of the more popular in town. We considered ourselves lucky to have gotten a reservation with only 24 hour notice for dinner on Sunday at their honten, or the original branch.

Motsunabe Yamanaka Honten's location could be a bit awkward if you rely on public transport like we did, with its closest train station being Ohashi on Tenjin Omuta Line plus a good 10 minute walk, a little off from the major tourist area of Hakata or Tenjin. But it’s hard to miss since it’s right by the main street with a big sign in front of a traditional building where the restaurant is. Once inside, we were led into a tatami room on the ground floor filled with low tables and seats, and already full of customers enjoying their hotpot and a few drinks.

Their menu was quite straight forward. You start with a choice of soup base – either miso, soy sauce or the shabu-shabu consommé – and it already came with beef offals inside and a plate of vegetables. (sorry, there’s no vegetarian option here but yes, there's an English menu available). Then there is also a list of items you could order to add in to your hotpot, including various kinds of vegetables, or more offals. Yes, it did sound like Cantonese hotpot in that aspect. There’s also a short a la carte menu of snacks and drinks.

We began with a couple snack dishes while waiting for our hotpot to arrive. Both the Mentaiko (cod roes) and beef cheek stew were pretty decent, and I especially like the mentaiko with a good kick of chili flavor, paired perfectly with a glass of beer. Soon the waiter carried the stainless steel hotpot filled with soup and ingredients, lighted up the fire in the stove at the table, then we were good to go.

Even though I claimed to be a meat lover, I must admit I wasn’t a fan of cow intestines normally for I thought they could be a bit too gamey to my liking, but here the taste was much milder yet with great texture, almost slimy with a good, chewy bite and plenty of fat and collagen in between. So good that we ordered an additional serving after we finished our original portion. The miso soup base was rich (maybe even a little too rich especially towards the end) but at least there were plenty of vegetables (cabbage, chives, shimaji mushrooms) to make the meal less heavy.

After we were done with the offals and vegetables, we ordered a bowl of rice and an egg, mixed everything into the soup to make a zosui, or porridge. Or one could order the traditional champon noodles or rice mochi cake and did the same – either of which would make an comforting end to a satisfying Motsunabe meal. The dinner was simply amazing and definitely exceeded my expectation, and we just found yet another reason to come back to Kyushu more often.

When? April 24 2016
Where? Motsunabe Yamanaka Honten, Mukaino 2-2-12, Manami-ku, Fukuoka.
博多もつ鍋やま中本店 福岡県福岡市南区向野2-2-12
Menu Highlights? Motsunabe in Miso Soup

1 comment :

Nihon Scope said...

I've yet to try the motsunabe, but I did get to try the hakata ramen. Delicious!