It also turned out to be the supposed birthplace of chanpon.

In our experience at SoraNews24, Japanese taxi drivers can recommend some of the best local eateries in Japan. So when our Japanese-language reporter Mariko Ohanabatake visited Nagasaki, she decided to ask a Japanese taxi driver for a recommendation of one of Nagasaki’s specialties: chanpon.

This Chinese-inspired dish contains noodles served in a ramen-like broth with a ton of veggies. We had been impressed by the chanpon recommended to us by a taxi driver in Okinawa, but we were curious to know if Nagasaki’s chanpon had any notable differences.

▼ Mariko could already taste the noodles.

Although Ringer Hut, a popular chain restaurant, is usually the go-to place for delicious chanpon, we suspected that locals might have alternative recommendations. With this in mind, Mariko decided to consult her taxi driver.

“Could you take me to the most delicious chanpon restaurant you know?” Mariko asked. The driver appeared caught off-guard. “Um… I don’t really have a favorite. Chanpon isn’t the kind of thing you specifically search for; it’s more like something you grab from your neighborhood Chinese food restaurant when you’re hungry.”

▼ Mariko wasn’t exactly expecting this answer.

The driver pondered for a moment and then said, “But I’ll take you to Shikairou, the restaurant where chanpon was first served.” If you’re wondering why chanpon is commonly found in Chinese restaurants, according to popular lore, it was first invented by a Nagasaki chef at a restaurant to serve hungry Chinese exchange students.

▼ Can you picture the students hanging out here, longing for a taste of comfort or home?

Along with resembling Chinese cuisine, it also had nutritious fillings such as cabbage and shrimp, providing the students with an energy boost. Even today, it remains known as a quick dish that guarantees satisfaction.

▼ The restaurant is on the fifth floor.

The driver dropped Mariko off at Shikairou only to find it was so popular that there were no available seats. However, the turnover was quick, and after a five-minute wait, she managed to secure a spot.

▼ Trust us, this view is worth lining up for.

It was easy to understand why the restaurant was full—the view was breathtaking! Nagasaki Bay could be seen clearly from the establishment.

▼ The menu gives you a rundown of chanpon’s history, albeit in Japanese.

Mariko settled on three menu items: chanpon for 1,210 yen (US$8.95), a Chinese-Japanese fusion dish called hatoshi for 300 yen, and almond tofu for 660 yen.

▼ Dish one: hatoshi.

The hatoshi arrived first—a combination of minced fish wrapped in thin, crispy bread. Mariko enjoyed it and found it surprisingly non-greasy.

▼ The main dish: chanpon.

Next came the highly anticipated chanpon, garnished with grated egg yolk. The creamy broth, made from pork bone and chicken stock, was brimming with ingredients like kamaboko fish cakes, bean sprouts, octopus, shrimp, pork, and green onions. The thick and tender noodles made it an incredibly satisfying and nourishing dish.

▼ A quick selfie for reference on noodle thickness.

The soothing flavor of the soup brought comfort to Mariko. Combined with the soft noodles and simple ingredients, it was an immensely gratifying experience for her.

▼ And now for dessert.

To conclude the meal, Mariko indulged in the almond tofu. Although the price of 660 yen was a bit steep for an average almond tofu, Mariko realized that the exorbitant cost was due to its custard-like texture and generous amount of fresh cream. The dessert was so decadent and flavorful that Mariko contemplated returning to the restaurant solely for it.

▼ But we’ll always remember Nagasaki’s original chanpon.

In summary, our Japanese taxi driver may not have taken Mariko to the best chanpon restaurant in Nagasaki, but to be fair, there may not be a unanimous choice for the best.

▼ It earned a special place in Mariko’s memory, though.

One thing Mariko learned is that while chanpon may not be a dish people actively seek out, it serves as a reliable and hearty meal when time is limited or cooking is undesirable. If you want to savor this simple yet tasty dish with an incredible view, Shikairou is the place to visit!

Restaurant information
Shikairou | 四海樓
Address: Nagasaki-ken, Nagasaki-shi, Matsugaemachi 4-5
Open 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Photos ©SoraNews24
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