- 3 min read


A different sort of Chinese restaurant

Hakkon is my favorite Chinese restaurant in Matsuyama. It’s always a pleasure to visit. Many Chinese restaurants in Japan are grubby, dingy, smoky places. Not so Hakkon. Everything is clean and orderly, and the food arrives on sparkling white china. The staff all wear traditional Chinese clothes, an unusual and stylish touch. At lunchtime, the first floor of the restaurant is also non-smoking, which is a mercy. The atmosphere of the place in general suggests a rather pricey establishment but in fact, Hakkon is no more expensive than any average Chinese restaurant.

Hakkon stands on the corner of a narrow intersection in Matsuyama’s entertainment district between the Nibancho and Sanbancho thoroughfares. I dropped in there for an early lunch on a rainy Friday. As I entered, furling my wet umbrella, I received a warm welcome from the staff. Even at 11:45, there were already a good few lunchtime customers. I took a seat at the counter and ordered the subuta lunchtime set—sweet and sour pork. The lady who runs Hakkon is from Beijing. She was looking very elegant in a traditional Chinese dress. She informed me that today, the lunch set comes with complimentary coffee, “Because it's raining”. Oh…OK. Good!

The food arrived promptly on a lacquer tray. Everything at Hakkon is prepared and presented elegantly. The lunch included egg soup, sweet and sour pork, shrimp tempura, fried chicken, a little salad, pickles, rice, and a serving of anin dofu—almond pudding. The egg soup at Hakkon alone is worth the visit. It’s a subtle concoction of clear fragrant chicken broth with strands of egg and chopped chives. Nowhere does it better. The sweet and sour pork is very simple, with none of the ingredients like pineapple and cashew nuts that are often found in this dish. But the pork is high quality with none of the typical nasty bits, and the sauce is just right, on the sweet side. Other lunchtime options include ebi chili—a very generous helping of plump shrimp in a spicy sauce, and mabu dofu—tofu with minced meat in a fiercely hot and mouth-numbing red sauce. At Hakkon, you get the real thing, not the insipid Japanese imitation!

The lunch set costs a very reasonable 840 yen. You can also order all of the Chinese favorites individually from the menu, and Hakkon is open in the evening for dinner too.

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