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2 Dec 2014

Yokohama Chinatown Part 2, Japan

Yokohama [横浜市] • DECEMBER 2014
Yokohama Chinatown is the largest Chinatown not only in Japan (there are two other Chinatowns in Japan in Kobe and Nagasaki) but also in Asia, and it is one of the largest in the world. 

There are over 250 Chinese-owned restaurants alone scattered around the narrow and colourful streets in this district, excluding other shops selling souvenirs and goods.

The plan to visit Yokohama Chinatown, or more commonly known as Yokohama Chukagai (横浜中華街) among the Japanese, was brought up quite some time ago, among the four of us from my company. Not much planning was made to be honest, we just picked a day in which everyone was free. In the end, we went there in five; Enomoto from another company, who went to the same job training center joined us as well.

The main attraction of Yokohama Chinatown is none other than its Chinese cuisine offered at its many restaurants and food stands. As there are many restaurants here to choose from, one will surely split for choice. A safe bet might be to choose the ones with photos of famous Japanese celebrities in the window. Here in Japan, whenever celebrities dine at their restaurants, they are often pestered for photos and signatures which will be displayed in the window.

Alternatively, another option is to go to the restaurants with a lot of people lining up outside. It is something like a chain reaction. Whenever you see a lot of people lining up for its food, it will make people think that the food must be delicious, which unfortunately, not necessary the case each time.
There are tons of Chinese food places here known as "chuka-ryori" (中華料理) or Chinese food. However, the taste of the Chinese food in Japan are generally modified to cater the Japanese taste bud. It doesn't mean this modified version tastes bad; it just tastes different. The Chinese food in Yokohama Chinatown however, has been less modified.

Sweet chestnut. There are tons of stalls selling this along the street, and most of them offer free samples for the visitors to taste.The streets smell of roasted chestnuts, steam bun which seems to fit in perfectly  in place.

Popular favorites include steam buns (manju), sweet chestnut (amaguri), ramen noodles and a wide array of other Chinese dishes. The most popular course is the lunch buffet course, where you can eat all you want. The most common price is 1,800yen for 128 kinds of dishes. Some restaurants have time limit, some don't. There are also some which comes under a cheaper range which is about 1,800yen to 2,000yen. 

As I said earlier, one could spend an entire day browsing through Chinatown, sampling food and looking in stores. Most will want to be there for just a morning. Note that Sundays are very crowded any time of year, even on drizzly wet days like you see above. Street food can be had for about 500 yen for a filling meal with a drink, while sit-down restaurant bills will come to 2000 yen or more per person! Remember that Chinatown is a tourist destination, and plan accordingly. It's worth a visit for the sights and smells alone. And you can buy some Chinese-style souvenirs while you're there.


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