The menu at Soryuko, a popular Chinese restaurant in Tenma, runs to roughly about 200 items, bound together in a large laminated volume. Narrowing this down to a few choices can be dizzying, but here’s a hack that will help: put down the menu and go for a walk.
Lining the walls are all the available choices with accompanying pictures. You’ll have to get up and stroll from table to table as you peruse the dishes, but judging by the staff reaction, this is common.
Besides the sheer quantity of available dishes, Soryuko is also notable for its generous helpings. They don’t hold back, and neither do they rush the dishes. The service is distinctly nonchalant, pleasantly breezy even. Be advised though, it’s endlessly busy, so a reservation is recommended.
While much of the menu is rooted in Sichuan cooking and features big, bold flavors, classics such as Peking duck and shoronpo, the ubiquitous dumpling that originated in Shanghai, are also included.
While waiting for the ebi chāhan (stir-fried rice with prawns), I started with a vermicelli-like dish that translates as shredded Chinese tofu, which was lightly doused with a spicy sesame oil with a salad thrown on top. If you aren’t acquainted with this noodle, consider giving it a try: it’s ridiculously cheap at ¥350 and the format — eating bean curd in the form of tangy, chewy noodles instead of soft squares — is a welcome change.
Although the ebi chāhan could conceivably stretch to three people, sharing quickly deteriorates because this fried rice is worth fighting over. All too often fried rice dishes lean toward a sweet flavor, but Soryuko goes down a different route that takes you firmly into spicy territory. Also, the added bite-size bits of prawn, peas, garlic, shards of fried onion and egg play their roles without overpowering the whole. The sauce — sesame oil, hoisin sauce and a dab of soy — pushes this standard dish into the sublime.
With a menu this large it’s hard not to order more than a few dishes, and nothing disappointed: The spicy mabo nasu came loaded with aubergines, Sichuan pepper and kikurage wood ear mushroom mixed in with minced beef. The aubergines, with their skins removed, became gourds of smoky spice.
For no particular reason except that it was on the wall, we also ordered a trio of fugu that came deep-fried in a thick, crunchy batter. Here the approach was minimal, and it worked well as a simple moment in an otherwise spice-laden meal.
Perhaps this is why Soryuko’s menu is so extensive — you want to keep returning, marking off territory along the extensive menu wall. If you decide to give it a try, bring company and a serious appetite.
Lunch 11 a.m.-2 p.m., dinner 5-11 p.m.; dishes from ¥350-¥1100; Japanese menu; Japanese and Chinese spoken.
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