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China, By Way Of Yokohama

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China, By Way Of Yokohama China, By Way Of Yokohama

China, By Way Of Yokohama

Chukagai Gate, the main gateway in to Yokohama?s Chinatown.
It?s always exciting when two different cuisines come together. We?ve seen this in our own country when Chinese and Filipino cuisine came together, resulting in food items like hopia, lumpia and pancit. But what about in other cultures" In Yokahama, which boasts of having Japan?s largest Chinatown, I wanted to see the interaction of Japanese and Chinese cultures. What would be their culinary offspring"

Even when it is rainy, Yokohama?s Chinatown glows with colorful lights.
An hour by rail from Tokyo, Yokohama?s Chinatown was founded just as Japan was emerging from 220 years of isolation policy. This port city was among the first in Japan to be opened to world trade. But as more Western traders came to Yokohama, so did the need for translators. The Chinese then found that they were suited for that job, as they communicated with the Japanese through writing. As more and more Chinese settled, this led to the establishment of a Chinatown in Yokohama in 1859.

The lavish interior of a Chinese bakery in Yokohama?s Chinatown.
Cooks and chefs were among the Chinese that came to Yokohama, and it was around this time that more and more Japanese people were able to taste Chinese dishes such as noodles, steamed buns and dim sum. Similar to the Binondo phenomenon, Japanese cooks and restaurant owners adapted the recipes to suit local tastes and cooking styles–leading to the creation of dishes such as ramen and yakisoba.
A branch of the Butaman no Edosei near one of Yokohama?s Chinatown temple.
Despite the presence of a ramen museum in Yokohama, I wanted to focus more on how Chinese cuisine is prepared in Yokohama?s Chinatown. Not that I wanted to compare them with our brand of Chinese food and see who does a better job. Neither was my intention to seek the best examples there were. My aim was to understand how Chinese food was adapted to Japanese taste, and what it says about Japanese preferences in food.

With this street arch you can definitely say that Yokohama?s Chinatown came straight out of a theme park.
It was late in the afternoon already when I arrived at Motomachi Station, the nearest subway station to Chinatown. Just across it is the main archway to Chinatown. Compared to Binondo, Yokohama?s Chinatown seems like it was designed by a manga artist. Even under a cloudy sky, it glows with colorful pagoda style roofs, red paper lanterns and bright signages in gold and red. But I also noticed the blending of Japanese influences, like the practice of having wax or plastic representation of their dishes on display to attract customers.

Butaman no Edosei, one of the oldest sellers of butaman or siopao in Yokohama since the 1890s.

The sales ladies manning the counter at Butaman no Edosei.
As the rain poured, I decided to keep warm by looking for food. On Chukagai-Odori, one of the area?s main roads, I spotted a dimsum shop with a tour group outside. Named Butaman no Edo...
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Source of news: dessert comes first
Source of publication: 24-08-2017 18:55
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