Thursday, May 21, 2015

Kyushu Spring 2014 九州春季之旅 - Shikairou 四海楼

Visited 19.03.2014

Chinese food in Japan? One food I was eager to eat was "Champon", a type of noodle soup which is well known in Nagasaki. Despite staying just across Chinatown where there are many restaurants offering this signature food in their menu, I decided to travel two streetcar stations to patronise Shikairou instead. Reason being "Champon" was created by the boss of Shikairou - Chen Shun Ping (陈顺平). Story goes all the way back to Meiji period. Chen Shun Ping created this huge serving of noodles specially for poor Chinese students in Japan. The name "Champon" came from the Hokkien phrase "吃饭" (pronounced as chak-ben) which means "eat food". No one would have expected that this kind act would elevate this bowl of noodles to become a specialty of Nagasaki.

Shikairou is a stand-alone five storey building and the exterior reminded me of some Chinese historical monuments. Bronze statues of two deities, Thousand Miles Eyes (千里眼) and Follow Wind Ears (顺风耳), were placed on both sides of the entrance. Dragon, an auspicious character to Chinese, are craved on stones and displayed on the central stairway. Took the elevator to fifth storey where the main restaurant is located. Restaurant also offers a panoramic view of Inasayama through the tall glass panels. Despite this being my first time eating Chinese food in Japan, Shikairou felt like any high end Chinese restaurant I have patronised before. From the delicate porcelain tableware imprinted with dragons, familiar Chinese characters on menu to traditional Chinese tea, the entire place was infused with Chinese style elements.

Ordered the couple of dishes to try:
(1) Champon noodles (ちゃんぽん)
- Was stunned by the close-to-overflow bowl of noodles when it was served. Milky broth is cooked using chicken bone and pork bone. Rich flavours of the soup is absorbed by the yellow noodles. Other ingredients such as squid, prawns, vegetables, fish cake and shredded egg are added on top to complete this bowl of Champon. This is what a good stomach filling bowl of noodles should be!

(2) Fried rice with corn soup
- Average, was expecting more wok hei fragrance in the fried rice.

(3) Pork belly bun
- The famous and familiar pork belly bun (扣肉包) is known as 角煮 here. Was surprised that their bun is as good as what we get here in a local Chinese restaurant. Meat was tender braised, and the fatty portion of the meat melts in your mouth. This is my favourite dish out of the three ordered.

Do you know? There is a fast food restaurant in Japan, named Ringer Hut, that serves Champon noodles. First established in Nagasaki, Ringer Hut's business has expanded other areas in Japan as well. Though I have spotted several of their outlets during my trips in Japan but have not try it yet.


Shikairou 四海楼
850-0921 長崎県長崎市松が枝町4-5
Opening hrs: 1130 - 1500, 1700 - 2100 hrs

How to get there? 
(1) By Streetcar - From Nagasaki JR Station, take line 1 and transfer to line 5 at Tsukimachi (築町). Alight at Oura Tenshudo Shita (大浦天主堂下).

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