I’m sure you’re all looking at the title of this post and saying, “Wha … ??” That’s pretty much the look my husband gave me when I mentioned to him that I wanted to hit up Kebabooz on my weekend in Fukuoka. Hunting for restaurants in my destination of choice is one of my favorite things to do when planning my travels, both in and out of Japan. I wouldn’t really consider myself a food snob, but I’ve come to realize that life is too short to eat bad food and even wallet-friendly $6 bowls of ramen and gyudon get old after a while.
But living in Japan means that often when I travel here, I want to eat something other than Japanese food. My own cooking is swinging a bit more towards Japanese style lately so when I eat out, I want something that I can’t replicate on my own kitchen. And Kebabooz promised to fit that bill.
Kebabooz is a Sudanese restaurant, tucked away in a nondescript building on the outskirts of Fukuoka’s trendy Daimyo district. Both the owner/head cook and the staff are from Sudan, ensuring an authentic meal. Before I dropped by for lunch, I couldn’t have told you much about the country of Sudan itself, let alone its food. But the sizable menu is presented in both pictures and has English descriptions and the staff on hand speak both Japanese and English extremely well.
As the name indicates, there are certainly kebabs on the menu, as well as a kufta plate and a hearty lamb stew, for the meat lovers reading this. As much as the stew made my mouth water just seeing it on the menu (I LOVE lamb), the outside temperatures convinced me to opt for the lighter vegetarian plate (¥1600). This selection – which was anything but meager – consisted of aswad, a Sudanese dish of grilled eggplant drizzled with a spiced yogurt sauce; tamiya, the Sudanese version of falafel; a fresh mixed salad; a portion of (spicy!) hummus that tasted like no other I have ever had; and plenty of pita bread to mop up the mix of delicious sauces. Most of the set meals come with the option of either soup or dessert. Both looked tempting but I am an unapologetic sweets lover so I took my pick of the desserts – a hot semolina cake called Basbusa – and didn’t regret a thing. Set meals didn’t come with drinks included (though a carafe of ice water was left on my table) but I recommend the iced chai, brewed fresh while I waited and left unsweetened (I added sugar to my own taste).
Everything was cooked to order, so there was a bit of a wait for my food (maybe 10-15 minutes). I killed the time by paging through a beautiful coffee table book on Sudan, learning a bit more about this arid country in Africa than I had known before I walked in. I had an entire table to myself – solo diners might feel a bit out of place but staff didn’t seem to mind. There are only four tables in the entire restaurant though, so be prepared to possibly wait a little bit on weekends for a seat.
Fukuoka NOW did an interview with Sana, the owner of Kebabooz, which is how I learned about the restaurant. You can read more about her and her eatery here and get directions and opening hours as well.