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Maybe Fukuoka, on Kyushu island’s northwestern shore, became a chow-down town because it’s where soba and udon noodles first entered Japan. Maybe all that matters is that it got food right. The seaside city, closer to Seoul than Tokyo, invented tonkotsu, the pork-based ramen whose devotees consider it a religious experience. Try it at Mengekijo Genei (2-16-3 Yakuin, Chuo-ku). Fukuoka boasts Japan’s highest concentration of yatai—about 150 tented street carts that come alive at night. Hop among the many lining Nakasu island’s southwest bank. Another specialty is chicken hot pot, best prepared at Iroha (14-27 Kami-Kawabatamachi, Hakata-ku; hakata-iroha.net). At Chikae (2-2-17 Daimyo Chuo-ku; chikae.co.jp), the seafood comes to your plate almost straight from a tank. For a chef-led fish market tour and dinner, call Suito Fukuoka (1-2-29 Imaizumi, Chuo-ku; suito.inboundhub.jp).