Taiken Japan

Autumn Leaves 2016

Cheap Chinese Delights

Photo: Daniel Go on Flickr

Cheap Chinese Delights

PH Chua

Here in Japan, Chinese restaurants usually do not have an exact highlighted dish unlike specialty restaurants such as a soba or curry restaurant. But they would most likely serve set meals (teishoku) and ramen. Let me share my three favorite Chinese restaurants in the neighborhood.

Kitanoyado (北乃宿)

Quite roomy and very welcoming. It's the best place to celebrate the end of a school project or a busy day at the office by telling each other, “otsukare” as you chug beers and do “kampai” (toast). It has the izakaya ambiance – dim yellow lights, beer glasses, and noisy chatter. The place is famous for Okonomiyaki and it offers a variety of Okonomiyaki mixes such as seafood, cheese, pork and more. But since it is an izakaya (Japanese type of drinking establishment), it also serves liquor and bar food such as fried Camembert cheese.


At the Kitanoyado entrance. You can be sure to depend on this place especially in holiday seasons like Obon when all the other restaurants are closed.


You only need a budget of ¥600-800 per bowl. From front to back: pork mix, cheese mix and saefood mix. Pork mix is a personal favorite.


Sharing is caring. Catch up on the latest events while you cook your own okonomiyaki.

Address: 470-2 Kurotsuchi Shinden, Minami Uonuma, Niigata Prefecture, 949-7241
Phone/Fax: 025-779-2685
Operating Hours: 17:00-23:00

Saikan (菜館)

This place is known for its dumplings and spicy ramen. Local families frequent the restaurant and the place easily gets crowded especially during lunch time. Saikan has two table settings – counter-top and tatami type so it can cater both for individuals and group customers. I like the place because it’s the nearest place where I can have a plate of xiao long bao for only ¥160.


Black Sesame Sichuan Tantanmen for the price of ¥860 only. You can choose to have it white or black but the black version is richer in taste and in texture. They also have other varieties of ramen which are spicier than this.


Saikan was also included in the restaurants who participated in the rice bowl festival in Minami Uonuma City promoting Koshihikari rice, MAJI DON. This is their version of MAJI DON – a rice bowl of the premium Koshihikari rice, topped with 400g of meat that is roast beef, pork steak and chicken karaage. For only ¥1,200+ you can have this protein overload which is certainly the best meal for a growing kid or a very hardworking adult.

Address: 5-1 Yamazaki Shinden, Minami Uonuma, Niigata Prefecture, 949-7226 Phone/Fax: 025-779-3242
Operating Hours: 11:3014:00; 17:3022:00 (Last Order) on weekdays; 11:3014:00 on weekends; Closed on Wednesdays

Azumaken (東軒)

Azumaken is the ultimate cheap remedy whenever I find no time to cook. It’s nearby, serves large portions and charges you for a filling set meal for less than ¥1,000 only. It mainly serves set meals or teishoku but has other dishes such as ramen, fried cheese balls and karaage.


Stir-fried liver and garlic chives set meal for less than a thousand yen! Look at that volume and the side dishes… I could not even finish it all. The way they cook the pork liver is just right - soft and fresh (not iron-tasting). Plus the vegetables are crisp and freshly-cooked.

Address: 459-9 Kurotsuchi Shinden, Minami Uonuma, Niigata Prefecture, 949-7241
Phone/Fax: 025-779-2795