Best restaurants in Kyūshū

  • Top ChoiceRestaurants in Karatsu

    Kawashima Tōfu

    On Kyōmachi covered arcade near the station, this renowned tofu shop has been in business since the Edo period and serves refined kaiseki, starring tofu plus other seasonal specialities, around a 10-seat counter in its jewel box of a back room. Soft, warm, fresh – this is tofu as good as it gets.

  • Top ChoiceRestaurants in Fukuoka

    Ichiran

    This Fukuoka-born chain (since 1993) has a nationwide following. That's as much for its serving style as for its fresh noodles and 15-second kitchen-to-table rule. Customers fill out forms (available in English) requesting precisely how they want their noodles prepared: flavour strength, fat content, noodle tenderness, amount of special sauce and garlic, and eat at individual cubicles for zero distractions.

  • Top ChoiceRestaurants in Fukuoka

    Hakatarou

    If you can't visit the rest of Kyūshū, try regional foods at this elegant izakaya. Look for dishes like karashi renkon (spicy, deep-fried lotus root) and basashi (horsemeat sashimi) from Kumamoto, grilled Shimabara chicken, Kagoshima kurobuta (black pork), and Hakata ramen salad and mizutaki and gameni chicken stews, plus a huge selection of Kyūshū sake and shōchū (strong distilled liquor).

  • Top ChoiceRestaurants in Miyazaki

    Okashi no Hidaka

    At this family-run legend, in business since the early 1950s, peruse the refrigerator case of luscious-looking Japanese and Western pastries, but order the giant nanjakō-daifuku (dumpling of sweet bean paste, strawberry, chestnut and cream cheese in a wrapper of airy mochi; ¥390). Cheese manju (dumplings; ¥175) and sweets made with local Hyūga-natsu (oranges) are other signature tastes of Miyazaki.

  • Top ChoiceRestaurants in Aso-san Area

    Takamori Dengaku-no-Sato

    At this fantastic thatch-roofed ex-farmhouse the staff use oven mitts to grill dengaku (skewers of vegetables, meat including Aso beef, fish and tofu covered in the namesake dengaku: sweet miso paste) at your own irori embedded in the floor. It's a few minutes by car or taxi (about ¥600) from central Takamori. Cash only.

  • Top ChoiceRestaurants in Fukuoka

    Ippudō

    Fukuoka's most famous ramen chain has efficient and always bustling branches in Tenjin, serving the best-selling Akamaru Modern (with black-sesame oil and a fragrant umami-dama, or flavour ball), Shiromaru Classic (with thin noodles) and Karaka (spicy ramen). This branch, Daimyō Honten, is the original, off Tenjin-nishi-dōri; there's another branch on the 10th floor of JR Hakata City shopping centre.

  • Top ChoiceRestaurants in Beppu

    Gyōza Kogetsu

    This seven-seat, 1940s time warp with a manic local following has only two things on the menu, both ¥600: generous plates of gyōza (dumplings) perfectly fried to a delicate crunch, and bottles of beer. It's in the tiny alley left of the Sol Paseo Ginza Arcade entrance; look for the display case filled with cat figurines. Unusually, it's nonsmoking.

  • Restaurants in Karatsu

    Karatsu Bāgā

    In the middle of nowhere (in a parking lot) in Niji no Matsubara is a brown-and-white Toyota serving burgers so famous people line up to buy them, and have for decades. The 'Special' is the most popular: a steaming cheeseburger topped with a fried egg and a ham slice. There's also a branch in Nakamachi, near Karatsu Station.

  • Restaurants in Fukuoka

    Umeyama Teppei Shokudō

    A humble-chic shokudō (everyday restaurant) run by some clever gourmets. The emphasis on fresh local ingredients means that the menu changes frequently; pictures and English-speaking staff can help you with ordering. Pretty much everyone orders teishoku (set meals) featuring fish like saba (mackerel) cooked in mirin (sweet rice wine) or the typically Fukuoka goma-saba (sashimi-style tossed with sesame).

  • Top ChoiceRestaurants in Satsuma Peninsula

    Tōsenkyō Sōmen Nagashi

    This sprawling restaurant in a riverside gorge near Ikeda-ko gets an estimated 200,000 annual visitors (!), paying tribute to the 1967 birthplace of nagashi-sōmen (flowing noodles). Sōmen (thin wheat-flour noodles) spin around tyre-shaped table-top tanks of swiftly flowing 13°C water; catch the noodles with your chopsticks and dip them in sauce to eat. Lots of fun and ultra-refreshing on hot days.

  • Top ChoiceRestaurants in Kunisaki Peninsula

    Soba Cafe Yuuhi

    This beach-casual shop might offer the most spectacular sunset of your trip: the sun sinks into the ocean or behind mudflats that stretch to the horizon – on clear evenings you can even see the green flash. Yuuhi sells handmade soba, smoothies (¥700) and iced coffee (¥400), and rents such gear as stand-up paddleboards (¥2000 per hour) and clamming equipment (¥500).

  • Restaurants in Kagoshima

    Kurokatsutei

    If your favourite way to enjoy kurobuta (Kagoshima-style black pork) is deep-fried, this institution does it in prodigiously crunchy crust, as tonkatsu (cutlets) or donburi (rice bowls). Reasonably priced teishoku (set meals) come with generous sides of cabbage rice and delicate, pork-broth-based miso soup. The Kurokatsutei set lunch features two of the best-selling pork cuts: fillet and loin.

  • Restaurants in Kagoshima

    Yokaban

    Owner Reina-san doesn't speak much English but is a bundle of energy, reflected in her cosy, spirited, home-style izakaya on a Tenmonkan side street. Start with self-serve drinks and continue with dishes like yōgan-yaki (chicken and vegetables grilled on Sakurajima-lava plates), house-made tofu (try the hot-sesame version) and 'tulip' karaage fried chicken, plus seasonal dishes. Cash only.

  • Restaurants in Kagoshima

    Ichinisan

    Come here to try Kagoshima black pork at an affordable price. It's served several ways: shabu-shabu dipped in delectable broth with minced green onion; with black vinegar; kakuni (pork belly); and (the best way) atop humble tofu. Try house-made soba, which comes with most shabu-shabu meals; fried, local kibinago (slender sprat); and the amazingly zingy condiment yuzu-kosho (citron-pepper paste).

  • Top ChoiceRestaurants in Miyazaki

    Ogura Honten

    Chikin nanban (sweet fried chicken with tartar sauce; pictured on the menu) was invented here in 1961, and crowds still flock to this no-frills shop under a red-and-white awning, in the alley behind Yamakataya Department Store. There are also riffs on curry rice and tonkatsu; the 'business set' (¥1010) is a half-order each of chikin nanban and a hamburger steak.

  • Restaurants in Fukuoka

    Tenjin Nobunaga

    Nobunaga is raucous and rowdy, and that's just the chefs. Choose from the menu or sit at the counter to point and order. Besides yakitori and other grilled skewers, house specialities include potato-mochiage (¥420), a fried dumpling of mashed potato, cheese and mochi (pounded rice). Look for the red lantern just to the right of Big Echo karaoke hall.

  • Restaurants in Hirado

    Hirado Seto Ichiba

    Downstairs is a fish market selling colourful and bargain-priced local fish (gutted and filleted on request), while upstairs is a popular shokudō with indoor-outdoor seating and views across the strait to Hirado. There's no English menu, but the regular menu has pictures of local specialities, including kaisen-don (raw seafood over rice bowl) and Hirado-gyū (beef).

  • Restaurants in Aoshima

    Aoshima Beach Park

    In a nation with lots of sea coast but precious little recreational beachfront, this new spot along the promenade facing Aoshima Island is a breath of fresh air. There's a hipster-friendly outdoor food court of pop-up restaurants in renovated shipping containers (check website for current offerings) and picnic-table seating. In peak season, nighttime might bring DJ events and fireworks.

  • Top ChoiceRestaurants in Kumamoto

    Yokobachi

    Yokobachi's leafy courtyard and open kitchen are distinctive. Although some menu translations are head-scratchers, stand-out small plates include spicy tebasaki (chicken wings), Caesar salad with fried gobo (burdock root) chips, taro croquettes, delicately fried mābō-doufu ('bean curd Szechuan style'), beef skewers and, if you dare, basashi (raw horsemeat; ¥880). There are 13 shōchū liquors to choose from.

  • Restaurants in Kagoshima

    Yamauchi Nōjō

    Kuro Satsuma-dori (black Satsuma chicken) is the name of the bird served here, and also what it looks like after being grilled sumibi-yaki -style over open charcoal. Other local dishes: marinated katsuo (bonito) sashimi, kurobuta (black pork) salad, and tsukune (chicken meatballs) with cheese or raw egg. Decor is modern-meets-rustic. Enter around the corner from Lawson, by the Remm Kagoshima hotel.