Exiting the train station at Motomachi Station, I stood at the end of a bustling street where the unmistakable smell of food wafted — Nankinmachi (南京町). Developed by Chinese merchants who settled near Kobe Port after it was opened to foreign trade in 1868, it is now jam-packed with food stalls and shops selling typical Chinese goods and dishes.
First-timers should join the queue outside 老祥記 (Roushouki) and some handmade nikuman (Japanese steam pork bun). The soft, chewy bun gives way to a savoury filling of ground pork and chopped vegetables, the perfect pre-lunch snack!
A short walk away, there is Pain RIKI (パンやきどころRIKI), a local bakery which often sees lines forming outside before a fresh batch of baked goods goes on sale. Locals in the queue advised me to get the best-selling croissants and cream-filled cornet pastries, which were flaky and delicious.
After stuffing our faces with bread, we enjoyed a leisurely stroll around Meriken Park. Found on the water’s edge, the park is home to the 108-metre-tall Kobe Port Tower, Kobe Maritime Museum and a memorial to the victims of the 1995 Great Hanshin Earthquake.
As evening falls, hop on the retro-styled cable cars to Kikuseidai (掬星台), the peak of Mt. Maya. The kanji in Kikuseidai means “star scoop pedestal”, so named because the viewing platform is so close to the night sky that you can almost reach out and gather stars with your bare hands. Here, you can gaze upon “The Ten Million Dollar Night View”, a glittering panorama of Kobe City that will leave you in awe.
We ended our day with an unforgettable dinner at Daiei (大栄). Run by a close-knit family, the teppanyaki specialist that serves heavenly, melt-in-the-mouth Kobe beef among other amazing dishes. Despite spending just one day here, we fell in love with the city and are already planning a return visit!
(This feature first appeared on WAttention Singapore magazine, Mar/Apr 2018 Vol. 43)