By Shinya Ota
Yokohama Chinatown has more than 600 shops in only a 2500 square meter area. Passing through the entrance gate from any direction, you are in the middle of a passionate hot town! Barkers from a huge number of restaurants and food stalls, cute and colorful sundries shops, fortune-teller stands, and so on, call out in loud voices to entice customers. The buildings and signs glitter and dazzle in brilliant colors. Chinatown is a completely different world from the outside city!
Yokohama Chinatown is known as the world’s best Chinese food spot. As you know, China is an enormous country, and the food from the different regions have their own characteristics. Thus, their food culture has been growing and expanding in various ways. There are huge numbers of unique dishes…but they're scattered all over China. So even if you go to a few cities in China, it would be difficult to eat all of them during one trip. But in Yokohama Chinatown, it’s possible and also easy to conquer the deep Chinese food world in a day…IF you have a BIG stomach!
Let me introduce to you to a bit of the vast Chinese food culture. First, I'd like to categorize the types for you: The Top 4 most popular and common types are: Beijing (北京料理), Shanghai (上海料理), Guangdong (広東料理), and Sichuan (四川料理). And Taiwanese (台湾料理) and Dim Sum (飲茶) follow.
This is based on ancient court cuisine. Emperors asked their cooks to arrange dishes from food that was harvested or gathered from their huge tracts of land. The taste is rich to some extent and mainly uses wheat flour and meat. Peking roast duck is typical. A whole duck is roasted in an oven and the crispy skin is cut and served in front of the diners first, then the meat and bones of the duck are cooked for other dishes later. Usually the skin, meat and bone are all served as part of one course. A steamed bun and boiled Chinese-style dumpling are another example. You will smell nice and juicy steamed buns on every street, especially in autumn and winter in Chinatown.
Recommended restaurant: Kaseiro Honten (華正樓本店)
This is deluxe restaurant. The interior and decoration are tremendously Chinese! They have à la carte and several kinds of course (5,250 yen to 21,000 yen plus 10% service charge). I think even the lowest course is really nice. You’d better make a reservation though. (Access Map )
The Shanghai area is blessed with fish and shellfish from the sea and the Yangtze River. The taste is thick and also a bit sweet, because of fermented seasonings like vinegar, soy sauce and Chinese wine. Shanghai hairy crab (only in October and November) and juicy steamed pork bun are famous dishes. When you order one, never bite it into two. It’s quite hot but please eat it in one bite. Otherwise, you’ll miss the condensed juicy flavor!
Recommended restaurant: Shigoroku-saikan (四五六菜館)
This is a casual, relaxed restaurant. If you don’t have a reservation, you might have to wait for quite a while. My favorite dish is their grilled prawn and squid. (Access map)
The characteristic of this cuisine is its variety. It consists of dishes that are lightly seasoned and that make good use of natural flavors. The popular dishes are shark fin soup and chop suey.
Recommended restaurant: Manchinro main restaurant (萬珍樓)
This is the highest-ranked Chinese restaurant (by many gourmet blogs) in Yokohama Chinatown. The taste, service, and price are all at the highest level! The lunch course is from 2,500 yen to 5,000 yen, with a service charge (10%). Only on weekdays do they serve lunch noodles and bowls at quite reasonable prices (from 1,200 yen). The dinner course is 5,000 yen to 20,000 yen. But I bet that you will definitely be satisfied with the food and service. (Access Map)
Sichuan is surrounded by high mountains. It’s quite cold in the winter and really hot and humid in the summer. Because of this condition, this cuisine is hot and spicy. The top rated Sichuan dishes are spicy bean curd and shrimp with chili sauce.
Recommended restaurant: Keitokuchin (景徳鎮)
This is a casual and cozy restaurant. If you like spicy food, please try their hottest dish. But since I’m not a hot dish lover, I recommend their stir-fried beef and peppers. This is an oyster sauce-based sautéed dish but you’ll notice the faint flavor of ginger and Japanese pepper. (Access Map)
The world of Chinese cuisine is so deep and broad that I can’t cover everything in one article. So please check out other upcoming articles about Taiwanese cuisine and Dim Sum!
Find out more about Yokohama Chinatown
Was this article helpful?
Japan is a small island nation, but we have a huge number of surprising things to discover here. Many of these delights can be found when you step off the main street onto small side paths. I really enjoy studying about and researching various aspects of traditional Japanese culture, and then sharing this information with visitors to Japan. I hope you will enjoy it, too! ARTICLE INDEX & PHOTOS: An index of most of my Japan Travel articles can be found at the entry page of my blog, and my photos are shown here. 日本はとても小さな国ですが、大通りから一本小道に入ればたくさんの発見があります。日本人が積み重ねてきた歴史を学びながら、古い建物や庭を訪ね、物語の舞台となった景色を眺めて、皆様といっしょに日本文化の奥深さを探求していきたいと思います。