Nagasaki city is famous for many things, non the least is the Chukagai ( or Chinatown ) that is located near the center of the downtown area. You may find it strange that what is called the Chinatown, really only consists of about 4 or 5 square blocks of small gift shops, herbalists, message parlors and restaurants.
Castella ( Portuguese pound cake ) and glassware make up the majority of the offerings that make Nagasaki famous. But lets go ahead and skip the sweats in favor of a more savory offerings from its Chinese inhabitants, Sara-udon and Champon. Both of these dishes feature a common element in their base, a layer of brittle or crunchy thin noodles that add some texture to the softer noodles and various vegetables above it.
Champon, the first stop on this unusual sort of mix between Chinese and Japanese cooking. The large ceramic bowl is filled first with what seems to be a rather thick shrimp based dashi (soup or broth or something in this range) that is in fact opaque and not clear like many of its American counterparts. Next a layer of the thinner and crunchy noodles that create the texture layer I was referring to earlier. Next a flouring of some friendly items Cabbage (napa), Carrots, Naruto, Shrimp, Green Onions, Chewy Udon style noodles and some minced pork, because pork belongs in almost everything.
Sara-Udon is a slightly different animal but has some of the same parts and pieces. The main differentiator is the lack of soup and the addition of a creamy rue on top of everything making it all sort of hang together under one banner. This creamy emulsifier really helps tie all of the components of the dish together.
Fried rice is a nearly essential addition to many meals in Japan, especially when noodles and the cross cultural context of the dishes. This particular serving was quite a bit more satisfactory than some I had already encountered at the local Ramen shop and the variety of how a single dish is prepared varies from region to region and shop to shop. The complex mixture of oils eggs and veggies is always welcome.
I wish I knew the name of this succulent offering but alas it is forgotten. The dish consists of pieces of bread that have been oil and then deep fried to a toast like texture on the outside while cupping a small portion of what appears to be a sort of Chinese meatloaf. The content are quite similar to pan fried dumplings, pork based ground meet with green onions, garlic and breadcrumbs bring a savory regiment of protein to the party.
Surely not to be missed the Chukagai of Nagasaki is a bit of a wonderland and if you are in the area for a couple of nights, there are plenty of interesting and delicious sights and sensations to experiment with. Upon my return from the area I learned that Champon is not a specialty of Nagasaki city and that the meal we had was average.
All in all I enjoyed this entry point and found it to be satisfying and unique. The combination of soft or semi-firm noodles amidst some potato chip like crunch is really fun to eat. The sound and texture are a welcome distraction and make for some good eats.
Z “so full”