A little sibling of sorts to Metro Top 50 veteran Ebisu, Fukuko is just the place if you want to grab a quick lunch or cocktails and Japanese tapas that won’t break the bank. With tacos starting at $6 a piece and cocktails at $14, this is an inner-city spot that offers a great location and great food for a great price.
Fukuko sits behind Ebisu adjacent to Takutai Square, and it’s built for speedy service – be prepared, the food does come very very fast, which is great if you’re tight on time. Your visit might be a good time, but probably not a long time, as it’s bar stools only and mostly tiny tables. I need a back on a chair to last longer than an hour or so at a venue personally, so bear that in mind when choosing what occasion and time of day to pop in for.
Fukuko kicked off my love for karaage many years ago, so I couldn’t resist coming back to see if it was still as jaw-droppingly amazing as the first time I tasted it. It’s quick to the table, piping hot and insanely crispy – I’m told this crunch comes not only from making the batter with soda water, tempura-style, but from the recent addition of ginger beer to the batter. They’ve kept the skin on to maximise juiciness apparently, but personally, I don’t like the fatty texture you get when you bite into a mouthful of skin. I prefer skinless thigh meat for karaage – I find the fattiness of the thigh keeps it moist enough. It’s still very delicious however and it’s the dish you must order when dining at Fukuko.
Their Japanese take on tacos still have quite a Mexican flavour to them surprisingly, I’m putting this down to the tortilla and ingredients such as diced tomato, which you wouldn’t usually encounter in Japanese fare. They’re certainly nice enough, but not my favourite dishes on the menu. At $6 a piece, however, you can’t really go wrong here.
The pork belly bao filling was pretty darn good – I’ll be honest, I don’t love pork belly as a bao filling due to the huge slabs of fat you tend to bite into, so I probably would have preferred a pulled pork style filling instead – but the flavour was there. The bao bun itself, however, was a bit dry and tough – more bread-like than fluffy, squishy bao. I think there are better bao buns on offer in the city.
The donburi bowls are fantastic value at $12-15 and make for a great lunch option – this will certainly fill you up. The beef version is spicy – chili, coriander and furikake seasoning, accompanied by carrot and daikon. I would have liked a bit more mayo and greenery, but they’ll happily provide you with extra mayo on request. I think next time I’d check out the chicken teriyaki – I hear that’s the fave.
I didn’t get to try out the cocktails on this occasion but there are plenty of Japanese inspired concoctions to entice you into imbibing.
The service is friendly, the food is tasty and the soundtrack is insanely good – it takes me back to my days working at Fabric on High Street as a teenager, being introduced to New York hip hop and the likes of De La Soul. Lovers of this genre will definitely enjoy the playlist on offer here…speaking of which, Fukuko would you mind sharing it with me? (Update: you can find it on Spotify – it’s called ‘Rogue Society Presents ’82 Grey Lynn’.)