Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Hachibei, yummy yaki - Fukuoka, Kyushu

Yakitori! Lots of smoke, but no mirrors
For work, we did an interview with Chef Matt of Yardbird, dubbed "Hong Kong's 'it' restaurant" (well...), and one of my questions was, "What are some of your favourite places to eat in Tokyo?" to which he replied that he actually thought food in Fukuoka was better. This was a few days before I was about to set off to Fukuoka - Helloooooo Lady Luck - so I asked my boss to kindly find out where exactly his fave restaurants in Fukuoka were. Of course, Matt's super busy, but he did manage one name - Hachibei. (And no, I don't think those questions appeared in the Q&A in the end.)

Hachibei is tucked down a small street in Tenjin. I know people say Japanese addresses are really had to read, but with the help of a map, this was hardly an issue. (Learn to use Tabelog, people!). We started with something non-grilled - their homemade tofu, served with dried bonito flakes, spring onion, grated ginger and pickles. Silky but still rich and substantial, without compromising the flavour of soybean. 

Pork with shiso (back), pork belly (front)
Deeeeeeeeeeeeeee-licious! Pork rolled with little strips of shiso is probably the smartest yakitori combo I've ever had. And the pork belly - let's face it, how can you go wrong with thick slices of beautifully layered (lean-fat-lean-fat etc.) pork? Plus of course the grilling was expertly done.

Quails' eggs, chicken kidney
Skin on quails' eggs got a little tough, not my fave but it was good to take a break from the pork. The chicken kidney was okay, I'm not a huge fan of innards, but this didn't have the weird metallic taste that I usually associate with kidney, which makes it nice(r), I guess?!

Chicken wings
Now, because we had a comparison, some of us (e.g. me) thought the previous place was actually better. But to be fair, they did the wings differently here - they sort of butterflied it, which meant they get a bit flatter. In my opinion, this means not as much moisture/juices are maintained. It was still mighty tasty, with the sauce and all. This had a glaze on top, while the other one was essentially rubbed in salt - also tasty but in a different way - the skin was drier and crisper.

If you read about the other yakitori place you'll know we had a little episode re: translating "tsukune", but this time we remembered - skinless chicken sausage! Or mince on a stick, in the shape of a sausage. Call it what you will; if I got a juicy stick like this every time I order tsukune I'd be pretty happy. That said, it wasn't my fave, because in general I find mince kind of makes meat lose its fibrous integrity - that's just a fancy way of saying I like to be able to chew on my meat (sorry, it's late and I'm getting a bit delirious, I'm just trying to blog while my work downloads... :P).

Loved watching them work
The great thing about sitting at the counter is that you get to watch it all happening before your eyes. The space is tiny, and almost an entirely open kitchen, and yet about 4 guys are zipping about at top speed, getting everyone served in really good time. The only shouting was cheers of "irashaimase!" and "arigatougozaimashita!"

With tea infused soup (I think?), yaki onigiri (grilled rice ball) and a preserved plum. A salty-sour combination that doesn't sit well with everyone, but I like it (I split up the plum and mash it up so it sort of dissolves into the soup and I get bits of it when I scoop the rice up).

yaki onigiri
Separately, we ordered this - onigiri wrapped in shiso leaves, brushed with yaki sauce and grilled. Thought all onigiri were created equal? Think again. This was probably the best surprise of the meal. Smoky (duh), savoury (yakitori sauce), fragrant (shiso). A rice ball, hey, who wouldda thunk?!

Deep-fried chicken cartilage

Deep-fried chicken thigh
Suffice to say deep-fried foods aren't their forte, there was quite a bit of residual oil on the pieces. Not that it was bad, it's just that the grilled stuff's so good I wouldn't waste precious stomach space with their fried things.

Sesame pudding
Rich with the flavours of toasted sesame, this came as a surprise. I don't think I expected a dessert at a yakitori place, let alone one as good as this!

I like beer now
On another note, I am beginning to appreciate the joys of having an Arctic-cold beer on a hot day, especially with fried and grilled food. Sounds like a stupid discovery, but it's pretty new to me, because I never really used to drink beer (or when I did, I got horribly full and sick). I drank 2 that night. Whoah.

Hachibei (八兵衛)
Imaizumi 2-5-28
+81 (0)92 716 2778
It's always busy, so I definitely recommend booking.

View e_ting in Fukuoka in a larger map


  1. the Deep-fried chicken thigh and beer shot killed me! GORGEOUS!

    yaki onigiri...when do i get to try you... T_T

  2. Once again you've made me insanely jealous. The pork with shiso? Sigh. Good stuff.

  3. Thank you for writing an article about Yakitori Hachibei. We are glad to see that you enjoyed your meal, and managed to try all those foods!

    We hope you don't mind, but we also shared this link on our Facebook page ;)