Fish-Shaped Fukuoka Snack Making Waves

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Manager Shigeru Teramoto holds a tray of the Kyushu regional snack Mucchan Manju at the first Kanto region shop in the Asakusa district of Tokyo.

TOKYO — A popular baked Kyushu snack, named for its shape like a fish that lives in the mud flats of the Ariake Sea and regarded as a distinctive Fukuoka dish, is enjoying a strong debut in the Kanto region, proving particularly popular among former Kyushuites looking for a taste of home.

The Mucchan Manju, made in the shape of a mutsugoro mudskipper, is the go-to snack of choice among young people in Fukuoka and other major cities in Kyushu. Riding that fad, a shop was opened in Tokyo’s Asakusa district nearly six months ago, and over 300 pieces are being sold daily.

“We want a common taste of Fukuoka to spread to the Tokyo area,” said the shop owner, a Fukuoka native.

Mucchan Manju is a baked good made from a sponge-cake-like batter and filled with any of a variety of ingredients — ham and eggs, sausage, custard, sweet bean paste and so on.

Among students and others, it is considered a Fukuoka classic. There are a total of 19 shops, either directly operated or franchised, spread out in Fukuoka, Munakata and Onojo cities in Fukuoka Prefecture, as well as Nagasaki Prefecture.

The Asakusa shop that opened last August is located in a back alley a short walk from the Kaminarimon gate of Sensoji temple, a popular tourist destination.

Shigeru Teramoto, the 48-year-old manager of the shop, said that Asa-kusa was chosen because he and the owner thought the homey atmosphere of the town was a good fit for Mucchan Manju. “I have known the taste since my school days,” Teramoto said enthusiastically. “The deliciousness and ease of eating it with one hand are selling points.”