Nagasaki is a strange city. It’s strange in the sense that in many ways, it feels very “un-Japanese”.
For one, it doesn’t seem to have the quirks that make Japan the endearingly eccentric country that it is. Things like giant mechanized robots and oddball restaurant concepts are nowhere to be found here. There’s no hi-tech subway system or young people sporting the craziest fashion trends.
Instead, it has the first Chinatown I’ve ever seen in Japan. It has Catholic churches and Western-style houses, many of which are the oldest in the country. It has an aboveground vintage tram system reminiscent of San Francisco’s iconic cable cars. And oddest of all, at least for Japanese food lovers like us, was the diversity of its cuisine.
A few of its core dishes have Portuguese, Chinese, and American influences. They even have a bizarre dish called toruko raisu or “Turkish rice”, which is a mashup of pilaf rice and spaghetti topped with a pork cutlet…