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Lamb stars in tasty offerings at Tohoku Jinka in Yokohama’s Chinatown

By TYLER HLAVAC | STARS AND STRIPES Published: January 23, 2018

In the back alleys of Yokohama’s famous Chinatown, hungry diners can explore China’s regional cuisines.

Most of the restaurants here concentrate on Peking duck and fish- and noodle-based dishes. While the quality is usually good, it can get repetitive.

One of the area’s hidden gems is Tohoku Jinka, which breaks from the pack by serving Manchurian cuisine from China’s northeast. The restaurant isn’t fancy — just a few simple wooden tables and a deer skull hanging on the wall. However, it makes up for its lack of charm by offering something different from its neighbors: lamb is the centerpiece of most dishes.
While patrons can still get some fish-based dishes, lamb is the main draw. Tohoku Jinka’s signature dishes include lamb meat cooked on the bone in soy sauce (about $7) and a nice steaming hot bowl of lamb bone soup (about $11). Toss in an order of lamb dumplings ($4.50), and you have a winning combination.

My food was tasty, and the lamb was very juicy, tender and served hot. The downside: Tohoku Jinka’s food is quite greasy, so you might smell it on your clothes for some time after your meal.
Diners should be aware that Chinese food from the northeast can get very spicy. I requested a level 2 spice — out of a maximum level of 3 — on my lamb-bone soup and could taste nothing but chilis. Tohoku Jinka doesn’t play around with spices, so don’t try it out unless you’re prepared for a spice challenge.

Another plus: Tohoku Jinka’s food is cheap and filling. The drinks are exceptionally affordable, but I wouldn’t really recommend them. For example, there’s a $3.50 cocktail on the menu, but I’d advise against it unless you don’t mind having a headache.

Overall, Tohoku Jinka is a good place to start out the evening with a unique, tasty meal that won’t empty your wallet before moving on to a night of hearty, lamb-fueled drinking somewhere else.

hlavac.tyler@stripes.com

 

Tohoku Jinka


Location: 231-0023 Kanagawa-ken, Yokohama-shi, Naka-ku, Yamashitacho, 151−3. A 7-minute walk from Motomachi-Chukagai Station on the Minatomirai Line.

Hours: 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. to 1 a.m., Mondays through Fridays; 11 a.m. to 1 a.m., Saturdays, Sundays and holidays.

Prices: Most dishes cost between $7 and $10, while drinks range from $2.50 to $4. Desserts cost between $4 and $8.

Dress: Casual

Information: www.tohoku-jinka.com. English menu available

Two helpings of lamb-bone soup from Tohoku Jinka in Yokohama, Japan. This Chinatown-area eatery serves lamb in a variety of ways.
TYLER HLAVAC/STARS AND STRIPES

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