Monday, June 20, 2016

Fukuoka in Five - a home cooked lunch at Muranofukei ... oishii desu yo!

There is nothing quite as charming or nostalgic as a covered shopping arcade in Japan.  These 
very local shopping centres are tucked away in the back streets and side streets of the big city.   
The stores have usually been around for a long time, are normally family owned and some are 
still very much mom-and-pop operations.

Jay and I came upon one such mom-and-pop place in a shopping arcade off Kushida jinja.  
After our morning tour,  our guide Mariya san recommended that we eat lunch in one of her 
favourite places -- Muranofukei.     If you're new to the area and cannot read Japanese (like us)
you might miss it completely as the restaurant is at the back of this fresh fruits store.

Surprise surprise!  Behind the peaches, the strawberries and the watermelons was this bright 
and sunny dining room with wide windows overlooking the river.  An elderly lady, her hair 
covered tight by a bandana was putting dishes on the customers' trays.  She was most likely the 
chef and owner.  Her husband worked the dining room, clearing up tables, filling up water glasses 
and bantering with his regular customers. 
Everything looked home cooked and from the looks of those happily eating their meals -- 
I knew right away that our lunch would be really oishii!

The dining room was filling up quickly -- Mariya san sat down to reserve a table and told us to 
line up at the counter to choose our meal.   A set lunch consists of one entree with your choice 
of three side dishes.  

The open chiller kept cold salads and other side dishes -- I saw a pasta salad, a green bean salad 
and the ever popular Japanese potato salad.  

The day's choices of entrees consisted of  tonkatsu,  fish fry,  ebi fry,  grilled salmon or a 
simmered fish head.  The japanese side dishes on the counter were more interesting to me, 
there were stewed clams, my favourite hijiki salad,  edamame, simmered lotus root, boiled 
vegetables ...  what would I choose?

The kitchen was open for everyone to see.  One of the staff regularly filled bowls with hot, 
freshly cooked rice. 

Here's my lunch tray with my entree -- a generous slice of fried and breaded fish , three side dishes, 
a bowl of rice and miso soup.  Plus I could drink as much tea as I wanted from the pitcher on the table. Would you believe this entire tray cost only 700 yen?  
That's how much a lunch tray at Muranofukei costs -- 700 yen for an entree and your choice 
of 3 side dishes.  Great value for a great meal -- freshly made and served with warmth and love. 

It would have been nice to stay a little longer -- maybe sit by the window and have a cup of coffee, enjoy the river view but we had places to go and people to meet ....

Before we left we requested for a photo with the chef/owner/proprietress of Muranofukei who couldn't quite believe we wanted a photo with her! She was such a hospitable and friendly 
lady who made us feel we were eating lunch in her own home -- and she's exactly the type 
of shop owner that you'll meet in an old-time, covered shopping arcade!

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