You can’t mention “Fukuoka” and “noodles” in the same sentence without thinking of ramen. But long before ramen arrived in Kyushu, the local favorite was udon — chunky white wheat noodles served in a hot dashi broth. No other shop keeps this tradition alive more faithfully than Udon Taira.
Invariably you’ll find a line outside before opening time, and even when you’re through the door you’ll need to wait your turn until seats at the counter free up. Once you’re summoned, be ready with your order. There’s no menu, apart from the inscriptions in Japanese on the back wall, but ordering gobo-ten, the house special, is a safe bet.
The noodles are served in a steaming-hot clear dashi broth, topped with morsels of burdock root deep-fried in thick tempura batter. If that sounds too plain, ask for wakame gobo-ten, which comes with a generous amount of jade-green seaweed, or even niku gobo-ten, boosted with a scoop of lightly simmered, slivered beef.
While you’re waiting, observe with wonder as the dough is rolled out — not by hand but in an old-fashioned contraption that must date back half a century. And when your bowl does arrive, just add a dash of chili powder and slurp. And don’t linger — there will be a score of locals waiting for your place at the counter.
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