KOUKIEN 50+ Veggie Taiwanese Dishes hidden in Yokohama Chinatown
A visit to Chinatown can be overwhelming. With some 600 shops, of which about 230 Chinese restaurants, all packed together, offering similar menu's being loudly promoted on the busy streets, there is one gem that should not be missed if you're Vegetarian or Vegan!
Seek and ye shall find
Any review site will show you the positive reviews KOUKIEN has received, from veggies and non-veggies alike. But one unavoidable comment, being located in the busy Chinatown streets, is that they are hard to find.
Our first visit was last year. Coming back from a trip to Okinawa (the good old pre-COVID days..) we decided to finally hit up "that Chinese place with Vegan food" as we were in the neighborhood (Haneda Airport.. not really.). As both our phones died by the time we reached the nearby "Motomachi-Chūkagai Station", we had two options - go home or use the old-fashioned maps outside on the street. Challenge Accepted.
Long story short. If us inaka-folk can find the place with the scarcely available YOU ARE HERE signboards, in the summer heat, with holidays luggage... you can do it too! Luckily, they allowed us to charge one of the phones so the way back would be less... adventurous.
Our second visit was per accident - having crossed the street after a visit to M's Table (blog up soon!), and in passing figured "OK, now have to go in...".
Browsing the menu outside, the sweet staff gave us a minute before coming out with a big smile and (quite correctly) guessing "Vegan?".
You know when you have like five Vegan options? And of those five there's one salad, and maybe just two you'd actually like to have? This will NOT happen at Koukien. With 5 pages full of Veggie (and vegan-izable) food, there is no way you will be disappointed (unless you don't like Chinese/Taiwanese food, but hopefully you'll have made that realization walking through those 600 shops prior.
The staff is very knowledgeable and will not only give you honest recommendations, but truly know the different between vegetarian and vegan and will make sure you get exactly what you want. During our last visit we asked, out of the 6-7 chahan dishes, which of our two selected ones was recommended. The lady recommended the cheaper option, without hesitation (and it was absolutely delicious!).
You can choose between rice-, noodle-, soup dishes, as well as side dishes, salads and veggies, and desserts. They have an incredible range of mock meats and fish(!) to effortlessly imitate authentic Taiwanese dishes, and manage to make every dish completely different from another. During our last visit there was a white board with "NEW VEGETARIAN/VEGAN MENU" including 4 brand new options with mouthwatering options! Hopefully this means they will keep adding more Vegan options to the menu in the future.
All items, except the soups, are available for take-out!
Time to get your drool on
These were some of the dishes I've tried.
During visit one I went for Vegan fried Mackerel, Vegan Taiwan-style Spicy Noodles and -of course- the peach manjuu buns. It's been a while ago, but it was definitely impressive enough for us to want to come back and to consistently have this place in mind when thinking of Yokohama! And oh, those buns!
Although we went for take out during our last visit after just having visited M's table, we could not resist trying one of the new items on the menu; which also included Vegan Tantanmen, Vegan Paiko "pork ribs"! We went for the authentic "Okoge" Scorched rice dish that pours boiling hot soup over crispy rice and veggies. OH MY. This was amazing!! It was my first time eating this dish and I've been craving it non-stop ever since. Highly recommended! And quite some volume for ￥1300!
We took the rest of the food home:
Taiwan Style Fried Rice, Vegetable Buns and a sticky rice dish filled with beans and chestnut, wrapped in bamboo leaves. (The sesame snack was something we picked up at a random stall..). The rice was very yummy and we're happy the lady recommended it - both enjoyable at room temperature as re-heated. The sticky rice took some getting used to with the first bite, but the fillings were delicious! The veggie buns were impressive and creamy on the inside and we would both definitely order them again! And guess what's for dessert?! (hint: it starts with peach and ends with buns...)
Address: 106 Yamashita-cho, Naka-ku, Yokohama, Kanagawa 231-0023
Access: 6-minute walk from the Motomachi-Chūkagai Station, IF you manage to find them in one go :)
Food: Veganized Chinese/Taiwanese dishes, ranging from noodles, rice, soup and veggie dishes, as well as delicious desserts. Authentic food you don't easily find elsewhere.
Price: Very very reasonably priced for large portions. Last time we spend ￥1850 p.p. splurging on 2 main and 3 side dishes/desserts!
Service: Very sweet, helpful and knowledgeable. Always ready to help with a smile, without being pushy. Speak English.
Location: Potentially hard to find. Great location for a stroll before/after, and a visit to bio c bon for some Vegan snacks!
Overall: We were very pleasantly surprised when we visited the first time in 2019 and promised to come back, but failed to due to distance. When we finally did re-visit we were even more impressed with both the service and the DELICIOUS food and range of options. The new options are stunning and I cannot wait to try them all!