Looking for lunch in Kobe Chinatown

24 01 2010

The only functioning Chinatown in Kansai is Nankinmachi (南京町) in Kobe. The Chinese community have had a visible presence in the city since 1868 when the port was opened to foreigners. Nankinmachi is a fairly small area based around a pedestrian street crammed with over 100 restaurants, tea shops and souvenirs stalls. There are also street stands selling steamed buns and fried snacks. It’s very touristy and crowded. Touts wander the streets and stand outside restaurants. They yell loudly in a variety of languages trying to lure customers in to their establishments.

Where to eat a dim sum lunch in this cacophony of noise and steam? With so many similar looking restaurants and menus, it’s difficult to differentiate between them. To complicate matters, we had forgotten the name of an establishment that had been recommended. We ended up at a small restaurant claiming to specialise in dim sum. Instead of sharing plates we were each given a tray of greasy dim sum with…a cabbage salad. Not one of my better dining experiences in Kansai.

After we fled the dim sum disaster we realised that we had gone in to a restaurant opposite the one we had been recommended. It was the only one without a tout trying to lure customers in – obviously not needed given its more solid gourmet reputation. I’ll be back!




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