- 3 min read

Heichin-ro in Yokohama Chinatown

The oldest Chinese restaurant in Japan

Heichin-ro (聘珍楼) is one of the biggest and highest-grade Chinese restaurants in Yokohama Chinatown. It is situated in the middle of the main thoroughfare, Chukagai-Ohdori. It has been serving customers for 120 years, which means that Heichin-ro is the oldest surviving Chinese restaurant in Japan. The cuisine they serve is Cantonese style, utilizing the food’s natural flaovors. The basic taste is mild but really sophisticated.

There are several ‘courses’ on the menu, according to your own taste and budget (from 4200 yen to a whopping 52,500 yen per person!). All courses start with hors d’oeuvre such as grilled shrimp and pork, flavored jellyfish and steamed octopus. Then, soup comes next. The ingredients are shark’s fin with crabmeat or chicken or bamboo shoots (depending on the course). After that, two or three main dishes are served. For example, stewed scallop or abalone, sautéed prawns with chilly sauce, beef and vegetable, and so on. I love the last two. The chilly sauce here isn’t super hot. There is a nice balance of pungency, sweetness and saltiness all included and mixed into the sauce perfectly. Beef and vegetables are sautéed with oyster sauce. At first you might feel this tastes quite simple, but soon you can feel the deep, diverse, delicate taste. Then stir-fried noodles or rice is served, finishing up with dessert. I recommend almond gelatin. It is also simple but really nice.

The entrance of the restaurant is decorated with bamboo. When you come in, check your coat and heavy bags at the cloak. The room on the right is for guests who want to order smaller, inexpensive dishes such as steamed dumplings. The inner room and the second floor are for guests ordering the more deluxe course dishes. The interior is Chinese modern with dignified furniture. You won’t feel cramped because of the wide space between the tables. You are able to relax and enjoy the gorgeous cuisine, just a few steps inside the busiest street in Chinatown!

I recommend reserving a table. Like at most restaurants in the world, customers who make reservations here tend to be treated with extra care, and get the best tables. If you are over 65-years-old and in a group of less than ten people, they will give you 10% discount. This ‘Respect Senior Citizens’ program began in September 2010. Don’t forget to show them your ID to receive the discount.

Sario: A fast food restaurant and Café

Heichin-ro also runs a casual restaurant and Café near the Zenrin-mon gate. It looks like a regular Café but on the second and third floor, they serve Chinese fast food, mainly noodles and dim sum. Just like at McDonalds, first you order and pay at the central counter, and then you receive your your plate of food at the next counter. Glass-covered counter seats at the window are comfortable, and it’s nice to read and watch people walking through Chinatown.

If you would like to taste high quality Chinese cuisine in a gorgeous setting, Heichin-ro is highly recommended. Your table in the restaurant will give you a sense of being in a comfortable oasis, away from the busy and noisy Chinatown streets for a brief space of time.

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