Nankinmachi: Kobe’s Chinatown

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Since I moved back to Osaka from Hong Kong nearly 2 years ago, there are very few things from Hong Kong that I miss, apart from my friends of course. However, from time to time, I do still get a craving for some really good Chinese food.

If you live in Kansai, and you need some good Chinese food, there’s no better place to go than Nankinmachi.

Nankinmachi, is a small area in Kobe’s Motomachi area. It is a convergence of four streets with a large bandstand and performance area in the centre. Chinese Restaurants, Supermarkets and Hong Kong-style food stalls abound. Whether you want some spicy Szechuan cuisine, a nice bowl of Cantonese Char Sui Fan (sweet, marinated, barbecue pork on a bed of rice), or even just some good gyouza and dim sim, Nankinmachi is the place to be.

I recommend going there on a weekday if you can, as the weekends are often manic, as the crowded streets are packed with both Japanese visitors and local Chinese residents looking for a taste of home. Festivals and performances are held in the central square throughout the year including the mid-autumn festival in September and of course Chinese New Year in late January/early February.

nankinmachi_2Photo by Janne Moren

One of the cutest foods you will find there are the panda and pig sweet buns. These delightful little treats are beautifully crafted to resemble the faces of these little animals. Indeed, they taste as good they look. The skewers of chicken, fried tofu and various other delicacies from the food stalls are highly recommended. For the calorie conscious however, the whole experience may prove somewhat traumatic!

Ironically, probably the most delicious food to be found in Nankinmachi is not actually from China. In the central square, there is a stall selling the legendary Kobe Beef.

For tourists, this is an excellent, and extremely cheap way to sample this wonderful meat. A roll, stuffed with large amounts of Kobe beef, and a glass of beer will set you back about 1200 yen. Alternatively you can just get a tray of Kobe beef cubes for about 1000 yen. For meat lovers, nothing beats the succulent goodness of Kobe beef and few drinks compliment is so well as a nice cold beer.

nankinmachi_3Photo by Janne Moren

Nankinmachi itself is pretty small and you can probably see everything it has to offer within an hour or two. So you may want to combine a visit to Nankinmachi with a trip to Kobe Harbourland, which is just about 10-15 minutes walk from Nankinmachi and offers attractions like the Mosaic shopping mall, Kobe Port Tower and the Kobe Maritime Museum. For younger visitors, there’s also the ferris wheel and every Japanese child’s dream location, the museum of Anpanman!

Access:

To find Nankinmachi you can take either the JR or Hanshin Line to Motomachi Station (One stop from Sannomiya). From the exit, head east and you will reach Nankinmachi in less than 10 minutes.

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Teacher, journalist and now blogger.

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