Satisfy your Chinese cravings near Camp Zama at Shinryu Hanten

Photos by Takahiro Takiguchi
Photos by Takahiro Takiguchi

Satisfy your Chinese cravings near Camp Zama at Shinryu Hanten

by Takahiro Takiguchi
Stripes Japan

Even in Japan, Chinese food is a popular choice for eating out. And for those stationed at Camp Zama, Shinryu Hanten, a 10-minute drive away, has been satisfying those Chinese food cravings for 22 years.

After a recommendation from one of my colleagues, four of us headed to Shinryu Hanten to taste for ourselves the delicious dishes the restaurant offers.

We entered its old-fashioned façade into a casual and cozy dining room decorated with Chinese ornaments and paintings. China-inspired red partitions separated the tables, which could easily accommodate about 40 customers. A large menu list with dish photos hung on the center wall, showcasing the many dishes offered.

We made it in time for lunch but instead of opting for the cheap daily sets, we decided to split popular dishes from the a-la-carte menu.

We ordered garlic-flavored fried rice, dumplings (fried and boiled), stewed pork rib and spinach, deep-fried local crabs and sautéed eggplant in miso.

We also made sure to try one of their most popular dishes— mabodofu, a bean curd sautéed with ground meat and chili pepper in a thick sauce for 790 yen (around $7.20).

The mabodofu is served in varying levels of spice so I asked the chef to make it very hot, as I always like dishes with a kick.

“Are you sure?” the chef chuckled.

One bite, and I knew exactly why he was so amused. The mabodofu was extremely spicy, immediately numbing my lip and tongue. My breath shortened slightly, but it was worth it. The broth was tasty and aromatic, while the tender meat added to the textures of the smooth tofu bean curds and crispy onions. The dish may be challenging, but you should give it a try.

As more of the dishes we ordered started to arrive, we were quickly overwhelmed with the hearty servings. Each dish was enough for two people, making the restaurant a good option if you’re looking for a good place for a family meal.

The dumplings were juicy and meaty, and really went well with the fried rice. The pork rib was large and tender, its broth was extremely smooth with the gentle flavor of sesame oil.

The stir-fried noodles were very soft, but they soaked up the delicious broth and tasted wonderful.

Shinryu Hanten offers daily lunch sets varying from fried chicken, sautéed pork and vegetables, and stir-fried egg and vegetables, starting at 750 yen ($6.50).

The cheap prices and good food make it a popular lunch and dinner spot in the area.

“Not only workers on Camp Zama, but those of NAF Atsugi frequent the eatery in quest of the authentic taste of Chinese cuisine,” says Fritz Suga, Zama district manager of Stars and Stripes. “All the menu items at the restaurant are really superb.” 

As Suga predicted, we left quite pleased with our food choices. What’s more, the restaurant also packed up our leftovers since
we couldn’t finish our lunch feast.

The price and flavors at Shinryu Hanten can’t be beat. I’m looking forward to my next visit to Camp Zama just for the promise of another taste of that spicy mabodofu. And after trying it, I’m sure you will, too!

Shinryu Hanten

Hours: Wed – Mon, 11:30 a.m. – 10 p.m. (closed Tue)
Location: 4-1881-45 Iriya, Zama City, Kanagawa Pref. (10-minute drive from Camp Zama)

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