Hello, this is Xiaoyi — a Chinese girl living in the bustling city of Tokyo. Living outside of China has never been easy for anyone who has grown up with a Chinese palate and appetite, and that is also why it always seems to be such a joy to be able to find authentic Chinese cuisine in Japan. It is common knowledge that in order to cater to the tastes of the Japanese, a lot of Chinese food in Japan has fallen short of ‘authenticity’. Although the Japanese may think that the Chinese cuisine they have become familiar with is “indigenous”, the taste is sometimes, or most often not the most flattering to bona fide Chinese palates. So here I am, sharing with you my top 3 recommendations that may come in handy when you’re craving for a good, satisfactory, and most importantly, local-approved Chinese meal! And yes, you’re welcome.
1. Yong Xiang Sheng Jian Guan (永祥生煎館 ヨォン シャアン シェン ジェン クァン)
Let’s start off with one of my favorite Chinese dishes — Shengjian Mantou. It is a type of small, pan-fried bun, or as we say it in Chinese, ‘baozi’. Shengjian Mantou is a specialty of Shanghai, China — and as a Shanghainese myself, I can personally vouch for this shop, located near Ikebukuro station, and the quality of their mouth-watering pan-fried buns.
Even though the shop is tiny and there is only a small counter for eating, it is still unquestionably my No.1 go-to-eatery. These pan-fried buns, filled with pork meat and piping hot soup, have a thicker, chewier, bread-like shell, topped with sesame seeds and scallions. When you take a bite, the hot soup may burn your tongue if you don’t know the techniques of eating them, but trust me, they are definitely worth a little risk. Besides the pan-fried buns, they also have many other Shanghai street food such as wonton, spare ribs, and beef curry soup to name a few. Their offerings of authentic Asian beverages like Soya milk and bubble tea are also worth a try. Pro-tip: during Chinese traditional festivals like the Mid-autumn festival, they also sell mooncakes and other traditional Chinese sweets that are not usually easy to find in a city like Tokyo.
Address: 1-29-2 Nishi Ikebukuro, Toshima-Ku, Tokyo.
2. Xiao Wei Ya Bo (小魏鸭脖 シャオウェイヤボー)
Now moving on to our second placing — Xiao Wei Ya Bo.
Rice noodles, spicy hot pot, duck neck, Chinese scallion pancake — almost anything you could imagine when you think of ‘Chinese Cuisine’. This is, by far, and probably one of the most authentically-Chinese restaurants I have found in Japan. The first time I stepped into the restaurant, it somehow felt like I had teleported back to China. Almost all of the restaurant staff were Chinese and needless to say, a majority of the customers too.
In the last few visits, I have, however, realized that there has been a significant increase in Japanese customers patronizing the restaurant as well! I have heard some of my Japanese friends saying that it can be daunting sometimes to step into these restaurants because there is always a worry of not being able to communicate with the staff. Well, it is my duty to tell you: don’t worry, most of the staff are effectively good at communicating in Japanese.
Address: 1-24-9 Nishiikebukuro, Toshima-Ku, Tokyo.
3. Ebi Dou（蝦道 エビドウ）
Even though Ikebukuro offers a great range of Chinese restaurants, let’s move to another location that deserves some spotlight! My No.3 restaurant pick Ebi Dou, is located near Takadanobaba station. This shop just opened recently and I have only been there once, but I’m sure to be back for more.
I’m not quite sure how many of you are familiar with crayfish, but it is certainly, a recent favorite that has been widely popular among many local Chinese, with many of us cramming in Crayfish restaurants and ordering by the bucket load. This shop in Takadanobaba provides different flavors such as mala, garlic, five spices, salt and pepper, and even yolk. The messiness of meals might be a turn-off for some, but it is also one of the main reasons why people enjoy this dish so much. There is something peculiar about being able to enjoy the delicious crayfish after all the messiness and arduous labor of getting your hands dirty peeling them one by one. After eating the spicy crayfish, be sure to order some Tsingtao beer, you will not regret it!
Address: 3-21-1 Nishiwaseda, Shinjuku-Ku, Tokyo.
Voilá! This is my current take on the top 3 favorite Chinese restaurants in Japan, and I’m vouching for them as a true-blue Chinese — they are good, you don’t want to miss out.
I’ll be sure to be back for new recommendations and reviews, and until then, adieu!