Changsheng Xilu: Japanese-Korean Town (Chang’An)

04_15_REST ReviewAt the foot of the hulking Daling Mountain lays Chang’an, a satellite city of Dongguan which negates much of the sameness you see from town to town. It’s less perturbed by construction along main thoroughfares, has preserved much of its green space, and pound for pound, may cater to the foreigner’s tastes even more than its parent urban core. But Changsheng Xilu’s Japanese-Korean street, however earnest, is rather unremarkable.

When I visit a themed commercial strip like this, I want to see something beyond the façade—a few supermarkets, a specialty item store or some cultural artifact to impart that theme. So I strolled up and down the street a few times, expectant, and peering into each restaurant to see which might whet my appetite. What it is, however, is a street like most any other, which happens to have numerous restaurants of the same persuasion. In the end, I literally flipped a coin to decide which restaurant to try.

I crossed a tiny bridge to enter a place with a Chinese-Japanese name, translated roughly as Our Home, and was led to a small private room with recessed seating. Soon I was munching on sushi, tofu and fried dumplings. Good sushi is hard to find in Dongguan. Most spots are powered by conveyor belts looping hour-old sushi like a worn out Lady Gaga single. Our Home split the difference, serving up flavorful cuts of salmon, but also rather bland, stringy tuna. The freshness of Japanese food was all but absent, and most of the flavor seemed to come from the sauces rather than the ingredients or cooking method.

I really enjoy the overly-polite, soft-spoken uniformed Japanese waitress whose hair is neatly tied back, gesturing sparingly, and bowing slightly when addressing me. It’s the difference between dining on Japanese cuisine and eating food from Japan. Our Home’s staff was friendly and courteous beyond belief. I would invite them to my birthday party. But something about a waitress in a stonewash denim jacket and T-shirt with nonsensical English scrawled across it sucks away a lot of the authenticity from the shoji screen doors and Buddha statues. Chang’an’s Japanese-Korean street and its tenants could benefit a lot from attention to detail.

ADDRESS: No. 84, Changsheng West Rd, Changan Town
中文: 东莞市长安镇长盛西路84号