November 8, 2019

27 hours in Fukuoka: bar crawl

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Since Amano-san does not serve any alcohol at Tenzushi Kyomachiten (天寿し 京町店) so that diners could focus on the sushi, we felt we needed a few drinks after dinner. The natural choice would seem to be Stag, which is Amano-san’s hangout.

This place was dark and intimate, with a few seats at the counter while the table behind us seemed to be stacked full of bottles. In fact, the amount of alcohol here was pretty amazing. Among the large collection of whiskies and grappa, I spotted a bottle each of Fine de Bourgogne and Marc de Bourgogne from DRC.

I wanted something different, so I asked Wasai-san to pick something to surprise me. And surprise me, he did…

1957 Blandy’s Bual – nice and savory on the palate, kinda like Shaoxing (紹興酒) that has had salted plum (話梅) soaked in it. Only medium sweet since it’s Bual.

The Strathconon 12 Years Old – apparently this was from the 1970s and 1980s, and are no longer made today. Wasai-san had to peel off some Scotch tape he used to seal up the bottle to slow down the evaporation. This was certainly smoother and milder, and I could kinda taste the effect of age on it. A little sweet and grassy on the palate, but not too much.

We took the Shinkansen back to Fukuoka, and after checking in to my hotel, I met up with the rest of the gang at the Roam Bar. S had arranged to meet up with the two people responsible for publishing Fukuoka Now, who are obviously locals and know where to go.

I started with my usual girlie drink… this time it was made with red grapefruit and raspberries. Pretty good, actually…

I saw that some of the others were having this cocktail made with La France pear-infused gin, which was beautifully presented. The only issue I had was the presence of a sprig of rosemary on top of the block of ice. I asked our mixologist to make a small change since I am not a fan of rosemary, and he ended up giving me something completely different. He ended up not giving me the same gin, and I ended up with something yuzu-based. While I normally love yuzu (柚子), this cocktail was rather dry and boring.

I was surprised to see a rotary vacuum evaporation system behind the bar - the kind that's probably made by PolyScience and seen in some high-end kitchens around the world.  In this case, they use it to adjust the alcohol content of some liquors for customers who like the flavor but don't want so much alcohol.  Hmmm...

It was almost midnight but we were far from done. I wanted to check out a place for sake that Master from Tamanegiya (酒たまねぎや) had recommended, and it was kinda on the way back to our hotels. Tabelog didn’t specify a set closing time for the place, just that we should inquire with the staff about last call.

When we entered Shuho (酒峰), there was only one customer present along with owner Tabara-san. He advised us that we could stay for about an hour, which was fine by us. After looking around at the selection by glass, and checking with the crew about their budget, I asked Tabara-san to pick out an interesting bottle for us based on a given price range.

Next Five Hyouge Mono 2018 Kimoto Junmai Daiginjo (生酛 純米大吟醸) – I had seen others post about Next Five, but this was my first opportunity to try it. This particular bottling was apparently done as a collaboration with a manga (漫画)Seimaibuai (精米歩合) of 45%. Very smooth and soft, with a sweet attack but a bit dry mid-palate. Sweet nose with a little banana. Nice depth on the palate.

After finding out who I was – apparently Master had told Tabara-san about me – we were advised to take our time to enjoy our bottle.

The Dining Austrian confesses to not knowing much about nihonshu (日本酒). But the one brand he does know – like many others – is Juyondai (十四代). So he made it known that he wanted to try some before we left. As there were isshobin (一升瓶) open and available for vertical tastings, I decided we would do a 3-vintage tasting of Ryugetsu (龍月).

Juyondai Junmai Daiginjo Tobingakoi Shichitare Nijikkan Ryugetsu (十四代 純米大吟醸 斗瓶囲い 七垂二十貫 龍月), 23BYseimaibuai (精米歩合) of 40%. Pretty smooth. Sweet on the nose but not on the palate.

Juyondai Junmai Daiginjo Tobingakoi Shichitare Nijikkan Ryugetsu (十四代 純米大吟醸 斗瓶囲い 七垂二十貫 龍月), 24BYseimaibuai (精米歩合) of 40%. Bigger nose, with more fermented notes.

Juyondai Junmai Daiginjo Tobingakoi Shichitare Nijikkan Ryugetsu (十四代 純米大吟醸 斗瓶囲い 七垂二十貫 龍月), 25BYseimaibuai (精米歩合) of 40%. Nose was a little sharp with starchy notes.

That was, apparently, not enough to satisfy my friend. So we ended up doing a 5-vintage vertical of Nakatori Daiginjo (中取り 大吟醸)…

Jyuyondai Nakatori Daiginjo (十四代 中取り 大吟醸), 25BY - seimaibuai (精米歩合) of 35%. More complex nose with banana notes. Pretty smooth but still got some depth on the palate.

Jyuyondai Nakatori Daiginjo (十四代 中取り 大吟醸), 26BY - seimaibuai (精米歩合) of 35%. Even sharper on the nose. Smooth and sweet on the attack, and generally nice and rounded on the palate.

Jyuyondai Nakatori Daiginjo (十四代 中取り 大吟醸), 27BY - seimaibuai (精米歩合) of 35%. Very big nose, and this was more “typical” and classic in terms of Juyondai.

Jyuyondai Nakatori Daiginjo (十四代 中取り 大吟醸), 28BY - seimaibuai (精米歩合) of 35%. More powerful and complex nose. Very smooth. A little sweet on the attack but dry in the middle.

Jyuyondai Nakatori Daiginjo (十四代 中取り 大吟醸), 29BY - seimaibuai (精米歩合) of 35%. Fragrant nose with banana notes. Very smooth and light. Very clean.

I was pretty buzzed by now, and we thanked Tabara-san for his hospitality. I would most definitely come back to see him on future trips to Fukuoka. I also congratulated him on the 10th anniversary of his establishment, as Master had told me last week that he was coming in to help celebrate the happy occasion.

BUT THE NIGHT IS STILL YOUNG! After hitting 3 bars tonight, it was time to grab some food!  I followed our fearless leader, who took us to supper at Menchan Ramen (めんちゃんラーメン).  We were lucky to have found seats at the counter.

Tonkotsu ramen (豚骨ラーメン) - I am, after all, in the birthplace of my favorite style of ramen.  So I couldn't resist ordering up a bowl.  This was really, really good!  The broth was thick and viscous, and the pork flavors were pretty damn strong.  It wasn't the lightest broth I've had, but it wasn't totally over-seasoned like many.

A quick glance to the side reveals why I loved this.  They have a big pot where they make their own broth, so I know it wasn't thickened with flour and loaded up with MSG.

The others were busy gobbling down record-breaking amounts of gyoza, so I got to taste a couple of these one-bite gyoza (ひとくち餃子).  Surprisingly peppery, but very, very nice.

It was almost 4 a.m. when I left The Dining Austrian to his own devices.  It's been a pretty long day, and I needed some shut eye...

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