Discover Yatai, a Japanese take on street food developed after the war

Discover Yatai, a Japanese take on street food developed after the war
By Marta Brambilla
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The southern city of Fukuoka comes alive at night with these mobile stalls across the city, but they must be gone before the sun rises


Fukuoka, on the southern Japanese island of Kyushu, is home to a distinctive style of street food.

A type of mobile open-air food stand known as Yatai has become famous in this city — and incredibly popular too.

Strict rules mean that the stands cannot stay in the same place permanently. They are allowed to trade only between 5pm and 4am.

Food from Yatai is available across Fukuoka but the best place to enjoy them is down by the river in the middle of town, at the southern end of Nakasu island.

When the sun goes down, these streets are filled with people searching for the perfect taste in this magical atmosphere

Shingo Nishimura, a chef who owns a Yatai, says they starting appearing in 1945 after the Second World War, when there were no restaurants left to provide food for the people of the city.

"So that's how Yatai culture was born: to provide food for people, this is how it started," he says.

Yatai provide seats for around eight people and serve typical dishes like tempura, grilled chicken skewers called yakitori and soups of every kind.

Then there's the famous Hakata Ramen, a local dish composed by noodles in a soup based on pork bone.

I myself had a go at cooking Hakata Ramen — and got the thumbs-up.

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