On this week’s travel crush, one editor argues in support of food bloggers and seeks out her new favorite comfort food in Fukuoka, Japan.
I would like to dedicate this travel crush to the food bloggers and publicly offer them my undying support.
Unlike most people, who are absolute haters, I personally love the long, drawn-out anecdotes that precede the actual recipes on food blogs. While I’ve seen people take to Twitter time and time again to complain, I implore each and every food blogger to ignore the naysayers, who know not what they do, and keep up this warm and fuzzy work. Tell me about the winters you spent baking holiday cookies with your mom. I want to know all about the way this recipe for the best-ever gooey fudge brownies has been passed on in your family for generations. Hit me with that big, delicious five-layer bean dip for the Super Bowl (or anytime). Amongst the insanity I read every day in this digital hellscape, these stories are like a brilliant, tasty oasis—so I say feel free to wax poetic about your favorite comfort food and the real, comforting stories that come with them.
This love of culinary storytelling is exactly what brought me to tamago kake-gohan, or “eggs over rice.” After months without travel, I’ve been on the hunt for international meals and stories that inspire comfort and recently stumbled across a recipe by J. Kenji López, whose sweet memories of making this classic Japanese comfort meal at his grandmother’s apartment convinced me to try it out right away. To prepare, simply crack a raw egg into a bowl of steamy white rice and stir until the consistency is just slightly thicker than risotto, then top with a little soy sauce and furikake (and an extra egg, if you’re feeling fancy). That’s it! So long as you don’t let the raw egg deter you, tamago kake gohan is straightforward, hearty, and somehow even more comforting than López made it out to be.
The recipe got me thinking of Fukuoka, the largest city on the Japanese island of Kyushu. While not the birthplace of this savory meal—it was allegedly created in Meiji-era Tokyo by war journalist and translator Ginko Kishida—Fukuoka is a food giant among food giants and home to a premier egg farm that does a mean tamago kake gohan. For today, I’ll continue to enjoy my own version at home—and for tomorrow, I’ll plan my dream trip to Kyushu, complete with all the culinary comforts my soul could ever desire.
One Hotel, Many Flavors
In my dreams, I’m checking in to Hotel Nikko—a place to rest my head at night, yes, but also a playground for lovers of the culinary arts. The hotel features eight different restaurants, each focused on a different style of cuisine, with Japanese, French, and Chinese fare and more on offer.
City of a Thousand Food Stalls
While it’s no news to anyone that Japan’s street food game is god-tier, Fukuoka’s moveable stall culture is especially impressive. Every evening at about 5 o’clock, nearly 100 vendors from around the city roll in their yatai (food stalls) and set up shop in the Tenjin, Hakata, and Nagahama neighborhoods, serving up some of Fukuoka’s best ramen, yakitori, and more. Then, around 2 or 3 a.m., they pack up and disappear almost as quickly as they arrived, only to return again the next day for more. Not only do the meals look delicious, but I imagine this vanishing act must be magical to behold.
Not far from Fukuoka proper, Uchi-no Tamago is a restaurant-slash-egg farm that serves up the finest tamago kake gohan for miles, all thanks to the high quality of their produce. It’s time to put aside any reservations about eating raw eggs to make reservations here, where the ingredients are farm-to-table fresh (and safe!) and garnishes, from soy sauce and radishes to chili flakes, are readily available to make your comfort food dreams come true.