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Hiyashi chuka
Miso-flavored ramen

Japanese Chinese cuisine, also known as chūka, represents a unique fusion of Japanese and Chinese culinary traditions that have evolved over the late 19th century and more recent times. This style, served predominantly by Chinese restaurants in Japan, stands distinct from the "authentic Chinese food" found in areas such as Yokohama Chinatown. Despite this difference, the cuisine retains strong influences from various Chinese culinary styles, as seen in the shippoku cooking style.

A significant number of these dishes were introduced to Japan either by Chinese immigrants or Japanese soldiers returning from the invasion and colonization of China, creating a unique gastronomic landscape that reinterprets Chinese cuisine through a Japanese lens. This style of cuisine has found its expression in three main types of restaurants: ramen restaurants, dim sum houses, and standard Chinese-style restaurants. The resulting adaptations span various regional Chinese cooking styles and techniques, from Sichuan's spicy stir-fries to Zhejiang's slow-cooked stews, contributing to the rich and diverse character of chūka.

Overview

Chūka (中華, short for 中華料理 chūka ryōri, literally "Chinese food") is the adjective for Japanese style "Chinese" dishes, or the restaurants in Japan which serve them.[1] Chuka dishes originated in China, but have become modified over the years to suit Japanese taste, often with Japanese or even Western foods. Japanese cooking styles have been added, such as in the case of miso-ramen. In other cases, only the noodles are "Chinese", as in the case of hiyashi chūka, which was invented in Sendai in 1937, and uses Western food influences such as sliced cured ham. As meat (other than fish) was not common in Japanese cooking until recently, many meat dishes, particularly pork dishes, are of Chinese origin or influence.

Though formerly Chinese cuisine would have been primarily available in Chinatowns such as those in port cities of Kobe, Nagasaki, or Yokohama, and a number of the dishes are considered meibutsu (regional specialties) of these cities, Japanese-style Chinese cuisine is now commonly available all over Japan. As Japanese restaurants are often specialized to offer only one sort of dish, cuisine is focused primarily on dishes found within three distinct types of restaurants: ramen restaurants, dim sum houses, and standard Chinese-style restaurants.

Ramen

Ramen, a dish of noodles in broth, usually with meat and vegetable toppings, is occasionally referred to as chuka soba (中華そば, lit. "Chinese noodles.") In Japan, ramen is one of the most popular fast-food options. Though every Japanese city has numerous inexpensive ramen restaurants specializing in these noodles, numerous varieties of instant ramen (much like the Japanese equivalent of the frozen TV dinner) are available. The ramen primarily derives from the noodle soups of noodles in Cantonese cuisine but these noodles have changed much since their origin in China.[2][3][4] Four main types of ramen are widely available in Japan: shio ("salt"), shōyu ("soy sauce"), tonkotsu ("pork bone") and miso ("soybean paste"). While the toppings used in ramen are generalized based on the broth type, this can vary from shop to shop. As complements to the noodles, ramen restaurants also commonly offer Japanese-style fried rice and gyoza (pan-fried dumplings).

Dim sum in Japan

Dim sum (点心 tenshin or 飲茶 yamucha in Japanese) in Japan is often very different from that which has been popularized in Chinatowns in the United States and Canada. In Japan's Chinatown areas, restaurants in which numerous dishes are brought around to diners’ tables on carts do exist. But, in general, dim sum items have only recently begun to gain popularity around Japan. Instead of carrying full menus of authentic, Chinese-oriented items such as stewed chicken feet or tripe, Japanese dim sum restaurants, now found in larger cities such as Osaka and Tokyo, seem to promote a cafe-like atmosphere. At these cafes, tea and snacks often become the focus, instead of full meals. In general, the menus seem to focus on cafe items, such as shumai (燒賣, minced pork or shrimp dumplings), sho lon po (小籠包, steamed dumplings with juicy meat inside) and the like. These are usually served alongside of pots of oolong or jasmine tea.

Chinese restaurants in Japan

A Chinese restaurant in Katsushika, Tokyo

Chinese restaurants (中華料理屋/chūka ryōriya or 中華飯店/chūka hanten) serve a distinct set of popular dishes that are not necessarily typical of authentic Chinese cuisine. They also cater to Japanese tastes. Currently, most towns in Japan have at least one Chinese eatery, as the cuisine is very popular. There are also many packaged sauces available to easily cook favorite Chinese-Japanese dishes right at home. Some of these typical dishes are:

Dishes derived from Sichuan cuisine:

Dishes derived from Fujian cuisine:

Dishes derived from Cantonese cuisine:

Dishes derived from Northeast Chinese cuisine:

Dishes derived from Jiangsu cuisine:

Dishes derived from Zhejiang cuisine:

Other dishes:

See also

References

  1. ^ Chinese Cuisine/Chuka Cuisine, Gurunavi. Retrieved 30 May 2014.
  2. ^ "Japanese Noodles (No. 4)". Kikkoman Corporation (in Japanese). Retrieved 2022-07-20.
  3. ^ "Part 1: China Origin". Ramen Culture. Archived from the original on 2022-07-20. Retrieved 2022-07-20.
  4. ^ Media, USEN. "Indespensable Knowledge For Every Ramen Lover! A Glossary with Shop Recommendations". SAVOR JAPAN. Retrieved 2022-07-20.