Whenever I go on a trip, I always like to buy special items from that country which cannot be bought from my own country so I always like to do some research on what are the recommended items to buy before I leave the country so here is my top 5 items
1. Mentaiko Crackers
People who has been to Japan would know that they have plenty of varieties of rice crackers. However, something which is unique to Fukuoka is the Menbei which is rice crackers made with Mentaiko, squid or Octopus to give it the perfect seafood flavours. The Menbei also has original, seaweed, mayonnaise, spicy as well as green onions. This rice cracker has that strong umami flavours that goes perfectly well with ice cold beer or soda. You can hardly stop eating this once you start as I finished my box within 5 days. This Menbei is more expensive than the usual rice crackers because of the Mentaiko used in the cracker at ¥1,000 for a box of 16 packets.
2. Instant Ramen
Ramen is like the national noodle of Japan and visitors always find the ramen they have in Japan so unforgettable. There are different styles of ramen coming from the different prefecture of Japan and Fukuoka has some very different flavours from the ones in Tokyo. If you are like me who doesn’t have many days in Fukuoka, they do sell some of these instant ramens from the famous shops around Fukuoka. The broth itself is very similar to the ones you get in the store so just get yourself some meat toppings and half boiled egg, you can almost imagine yourself having this in Japan
3. Dried Mentaiko
Since Fukuoka is the prefecture that makes very good Mentaiko, you can find all kinds of Mentaiko products here like Mentaiko mayonnaise, fresh Mentaiko, roasted Mentaiko etc. One downside however is that most of these items need to be refrigerated so unless you are flying home, it is not so feasible to bring them with you. What they do have is these dried compacted Mentaiko which looks and feels just like meat jerky. The Mentaiko is sliced into thin pieces before drying them into these strong flavour pieces. The dried jerky itself is very strong in flavours as you can taste the strong Mentaiko taste in a concentrated form but it does go very well as a snack with alcohol drinks. This is something you can’t easily find outside of Fukuoka so it is a good souvenir to buy home although it is not very cheap
4. Strawberry cookie ( Kajuen Ichigo Ichigo)
This is a very interesting snack as they are made of 2 almond cookies made with strawberries from the Fukuoka region sandwiching white chocolate. The cookie itself has the texture of a stiffer macaroon and has a good mix of sweet and sour taste from the natural taste of the strawberry.
The white chocolate cream in the middles gives it the extra sweetness to make this a very pretty and sweet snack.
5. Pudding Dorayaki
Dorayaki is one of my favourite snacks from Japan and it is becoming increasing popular in bakeries overseas as well. The common dorayaki snack has red bean or custard cream as their filling but only here in Fukuoka do they give you an extremely unique version
The filling in between the 2 dorayaki pancakes is a caramel custard pudding. There is perfect balance from the sweetness and creaminess of the pudding mixed with the soft and sweet dorayaki pancakes. The taste is really unique and nice but the only downside is that they sell these per piece in the refrigerator so you have to eat them pretty soon and cannot buy them home as souvenirs.
Overall, for fans of Mentaiko, Fukuoka is like your home ground as you can find many Mentaiko flavoured items in terms of snacks, cakes or desserts. Although most of them is not cheap, the taste of these snacks are very legit and well worth the money.