Yokohama is Japan’s second most populated city after Tokyo. So it comes as no surprise that it boasts an impressive selection of restaurants, from traditional Japanese food to gourmet international fare. We give you a low down on 10 of our favorite places to eat, which are must-visits if you find yourself in Yokohama.
Nanjya Monjya Café
Cafe, Contemporary, Japanese, Fusion, $$$
The Nanjya Monjya is a gem of a café. This tree-top café is only open for a limited period of time on Fridays and Saturdays, and so usually has a long queue of curious customers snaking around the street. Despite the fact that the menu is restricted to curry, toast and pizza, the place has acquired an enormous following. Bright, airy and quaint, this café is chock full of curios, which give it a distinctive vibe. If you want to regress to childhood nostalgia in your adult years, then this café is what you need.
This restaurant has lasted the test of time. Established in 1892, Manchinro Honten is Yokohama Chinatown’s oldest restaurant, and specializes in Cantonese cuisine. With its opulently decorated façade and impressive interiors, the restaurant offers you a luxurious taste of China. While the specialty of the restaurant is the dumplings, many other dishes on the menu deserve a mention. The crab meat parcel is a very popular choice. While standing strong in Chinatown for more than a century, Manchinro Honten has incorporated a strong local flavor to cater to locals. Anmitsu, a very popular Japanese dessert, is one dish that bears testimony to this fact.
This Michelin star restaurant is unexpectedly nestled in a French inn, relocated from Lyon. The picturesque French sophistication mixed with Japanese hospitality make this the perfect melting pot, where the West meets East. While in Japan, one of the many delicacies one should sample is Kobe beef, delicious cuts from wagyu cattle. Luckily, Azamino Ukai-tei does Kobe steak, and it does it well. Some of the other dishes that deserve a mention are the rock salt steamed abalone, Ukai-gyu beef and the somen, garlic flavored rice-infused noodles with the aroma of burnt soya sauce. To help you digest the meal, a stroll in their tranquil garden is a must.
There are few restaurants in Yokohama that can rival this one. It has stood the test of time by withstanding World War II and has buried itself deep into the culinary legacy of Yokohama. The interiors have changed little over the past seven decades. The wooden floors creak and the seating is worn out and frayed. The classic dish one should try at this 78-year-old institution is the hayashi, a rice dish, served with a beef onion stew. Besides this, one can also sample katsudon, where a dish of rice is concealed beneath a layer of pork cutlet and eggs. This restaurant offers an authentic taste of Japan.
Curry is a quintessential dish of Japan, so much so that it has a museum dedicated to it. The unofficial national dish has acquired a cult following after being introduced in Japan by the British during the Meiji period. The Japanese variant is normally tempered more mildly than it’s South Asian counterpart, but in SaliSali Curry one finds curry in all its spicy glory. Their Pakistani curry is considered one of the best in the area and is fastidiously prepared over a period of 12 hours. Their menu is minimal, an indication that they believe in quality over quantity. And for their quality, their spicy curry served with rice and a refreshing salad, receives full marks.
This restaurant, owned by the Australian chef Bill Granger, makes a bold claim to make the world’s best breakfast. Their creamy scrambled eggs and fluffy ricotta hotcakes fly off the counters like, well, hotcakes. Besides breakfast, Bills does a mean lunch too. Infusing local flavor into Aussie cuisine isn’t an easy fare, but Bill has done it rather well. Take your pick between a wagyu beef burger or an Asian version of a linguine, infused with the twang of ginger, garlic and coriander, and we promise you that you won’t be disappointed.
Even though Yokohama Brewery is less restaurant and more brewery, we feel that it deserves a mention. It’s the oldest microbrewery in Japan and has won several awards including the coveted Mayor’s Award. Opened in 1995, the Brewery serves a selection of beers, which include, but are not limited to lager, alt, weizen, pilsner and pale ale. Besides sampling a cold keg of freshly brewed beer (the best way to sample beer), there is also a restaurant above the brewery. The restaurant Umaya serves a wide array of both Asian and Western cuisine, to complement your beer of choice.
Japan is synonymous with Hello Kitty. This little cat, worth 5 billion dollars, has won her way into the hearts of young and old people alike. So it comes as no surprise that there is a café in Yokohama, which is dedicated to Japan’s favorite feline. If Kitty would ever come to life, this would be the kind of place she would inhabit. The restaurant is embellished with Hello Kitty kitsch, and even features a faux fireplace to add that bit of warmth. The signature dish is Kitty’s favorite dish – apple pie, which goes beautifully with a cup of coffee. And if you were to forget where you are sitting, the iconic Kitty silhouetted on top of your cuppa will be a good reminder.
Chano-ma is perhaps one of the few restaurants worldwide where you don’t have to get out of bed to eat. Combining the beats of a club with the relaxed buzz of a lounge (complete with beds), Chano-ma serves delicious food. This charming little spot, situated close to the station, is a favorite with young couples and families. The menu is a curious amalgamation of Japanese and Italian cuisine. Apart from the staple Japanese Yakisoba, sushi rolls and Udon, the restaurant also entices you with a pizza topped with cheese and rice cake.
Art paired with food is always a winning combination. This chic café nestled in the bustling district of Motomachi offers a restful haven for those looking to find a bite and a rest. With its black, white and red interiors, the eclectic cafe starkly offsets the art on display. The energy of the place is slow. You spend ample amount of time here looking at art, reading books and tucking into a delicious freshly baked chocolate chip cookie. Their portions are sumptuous and it’s clear that they curate their food as tastefully as they curate their art.