In the seventies Yonehama-san operated an udon shop. He was also an avid sumo fan and often visited the wrestlers’ stables, sharing their staple meal chanko-nabe, a hot-pot of veggies, meat and seafood. Typically, noodles are added towards the end of the meal. Yonehama-san questioned the need to wait, and developed a noodle that wouldn’t go soggy and could be enjoyed from the start of the meal. Now, at any of the nine Menchanko-tei shops in Kyushu (and one in Waikiki, Hawaii), the medium-sized flour and noodles can be enjoyed from the start. At Menchanko-tei everyone gets their own pot, so it’s ideal for both groups and solo diners. The basic Ganso Menchanko nabe is just 504 yen and includes noodles, cabbage, tofu, abura-age, mochi, string beans, chives, kamaboko, sliced pork and a tasty soup. Very filling and nutritious. Other varieties such as the spicy chigemenchanko 630 yen (Korean miso) and the yasaimenchanko 640 yen (extra veggies) are offered. Be sure to try the Oita-style toriten (chicken breast tempura), the garlic-free gyoza, and for dessert their egg custard pudding is pure pleasure! English menus available.
2-6-9 Ropponmatsu, Chuo-ku, Fukuoka
Originally published in Fukuoka Now magazine (fn107, Nov. 2007)