As I’ve said here before, it’s hard to go wrong with meat on a stick, so when I saw that there would be a yakitori festival in the nearby city of Kurume, there was no doubt that I’d be going. I invited a bunch of friends and coworkers, and we set off with visions of sizzling grilled meat in our heads.
I’d never actually been to Kurume before, even though it’s fairly close and a couple of friends and coworkers live there. The festival was a short walk from the Nishitetsu station, and we passed a neat little farmers market (they had super cheap shiitake mushrooms!) that I wish I’d gone back to after the festival. Another time perhaps.
The festival is apparently a big deal, having drawn about 40,000 attendees last year. So I aimed to get us there before it actually opened so nothing would be sold out. Turns out there were so many folks that they started selling a little early. Most of us picked the longest line, guessing there was a good reason for the popularity, while a couple others checked out the shorter lines, and then scouted a quiet place for us to eat.
Spent probably half an hour in line, which wasn’t too bad, except Kyushu hadn’t gotten the news that it was officially fall. It was clear and bright and hot … and we were standing not far from a whole lot of open grills. While we waited, we saw someone in a bizarre chicken costume. Bizarre in that we weren’t sure it was official, and more like someone put a costume together themselves. And someone else had brought a pair of ferrets, whose little noses must’ve been in overdrive.
When we finally had our food, a beer that a friend grabbed for me, we headed over to another nearby park and feasted.
I think we all agreed that the bacon-wrapped cheese was a hit, as was the sweet pork belly. Two of us had found a booth with escargot, which turned out to be really good — soaked in garlic butter, served on decent bread. Tasty! I was less enthusiastic about the giant shrimp I ordered (mealy — so perhaps overcooked) and the hotate no ko (scallop children), which I had assumed would be tiny scallops, but turned out to be scallop egg sacs, one male, one female. Thankfully those didn’t go to waste, as others took them off my hands. Far too … oceany for my tastes.
A bunch of us were craving ice cream after all that salty goodness, so we ended up at Baskin Robbins when we got back to Fukuoka. A good finish to the trip. Will likely go back next year, but avoid the seafood and order less (we had so much left over!)