Nagiya is Japanese community mall Nihonmachi’s most popular venue. It’s near impossible to get in on weekends, and you’ll be signing up on the queuing clipboard and waiting outside with chain-smoking salarymen even on weeknights. The izakaya (tavern) mood is perfect, even if the décor is minimal: lanterns hanging from ropes, Japanese kitsch plastered all over the wooden bar/kitchen, thunderous bellows from the all-male kitchen as patrons come and go, steam rising from the yakitori grill. Obviously, you’re here to knock back pints of draft Asahi or cups of shochu (the menu has two pages of the Japanese liquor by the glass, B200-320, and some B1,200 bottles, too) but Nagiya’s food is no afterthought. You’ll immediately spot intriguing fagots of garlic chives on the tables, set up like funeral pyres on portable gas stoves. These are for Nagiya’s signature dish, nabe, hot pots that come in a variety of flavors and ingredients. The motsunabe (only for two or four people, B360/person), for example, is made of wagyu beef offal, prepared as delicious meats balls and fatty cuts. The thick broth is made creamy from the miso and the meat is fat and fragrant from the garlic, chili pepper and chives. You’ll spoon it up to the last drop, although its heaviness is probably better suited to rainy winters in Fukuoka than the tropics. Just like everything else here, it goes great with drinks though, and Nagiya’s menu has plenty more specialties in that department, like the tasty oroshi harami niniku nose (tender beef with white radish and garlic, B80) or yakitoshi (skewered, grilled meats, mostly B30 a piece)—a tad dry, with a marked charcoal flavor and light, not-too sweet sauces. Finally, we have to mention the nice little chocolate puddings (B65) and the waiters, who are informed, friendly and hands-on (which is important when having your first nabe experience). Sign us up on the clipboard, we’re definitely ready for another round of Nagiya’s smells, sounds and salty, shochu-friendly tastes.