Do you speak Japanese?
Most people traveling to Japan don’t.
And that’s okay!
That’s not what this post is about.
I know many of you, who don’t speak Japanese are hesitant to visit restaurants in Japan.
The menu is in Japanese and you can’t read anything. The staff usually isn’t very helpful either because most don’t speak English or are to shy to use it even if they know some English.
I get it. It can be a challenge.
And you might not feel like going through the hassle just to get some food. What do you do instead of going to a restaurant with a delicious dinner?
You opt for McDonald’s. Because you already know what’s on the menu there.
I have a different solution for you.
Today (or when you are in Nagoya in the near future), visit Sekai no Yamachan.
This chain of restaurants makes it really easy for foreigners to feel right at welcome.
They have an English menu, with pictures. So, you just have to point at whatever you want to eat. No need to try to communicate with your waiter (you can try though, the waiters at Yamachan are super energetic and friendly, you’ll see what I mean when you visit).
Let’s look in more detail at Sekai no Yamachan in Nagoya.
A Short History of Yamachan
What came first the chicken or the egg?
It has been an agelong question.
The question at Yamachan is ‘What came first, the chicken wing or Yamachan?’
Fortunately, it is not an unanswerable question. The famous Yamachan chicken wing served as the main dish at all Sekai no Yamachan restaurants came first.
In 1965 at a restaurant in Nagoya people tried to figure out what to do with all of those chicken wings lying around. Nobody wanted them. Whaaat?
There was one smart guy. His nickname was Yamachan and he figured out a way to prepare the unused chicken wings. He added spices and lot’s of pepper and deep-fried them to perfection.
The wings were so delicious that they made it to that restaurant’s menu.
Yamachan finally opened his first establishment in 1981: Sekai no Yamachan, Yamachan of the world (that’s what the name means, by the way).
At his small 13 seater restaurant he offered, you probably guessed it, the famous chicken wings called Maboroshi no Tebasaki.
And the rest is history.
The Tebasaki with their delicious spicy kick, were super popular and Sekai no Yamachan spread first in Nagoya, then in Aichi and finally to all corners of Japan.
Establishments of Sekai no Yamachan usually great you with a sign of a dude with a chicken body and a human head. We’ll get to why in a moment.
There are big illuminated signboards all over the building reading ‘世界の山ちゃん’ which means Sekai no Yamachan. This really makes it hard to miss the restaurants, especially at night when it is dark and Yamachan’s everywhere light up like Christmas trees.
Inside the design is simple, but decidedly Japanese. With a semi-open kitchen. You can more or less see what the people in the kitchen are up to if you are walking by, but not sitting in your seat. Not even if you sit at the counter facing the kitchen.
For bigger groups (usually if you are more than 3 people) there are private rooms, with a central table and seats surrounding it. Walled off in wood with a sliding door.
This is very typical for Izakaya style restaurants in Japan.
By the way, Izakaya is the name for a Japanese bar, basically an establishment you visit at night to have a ridiculous amount of beer or other alcohol (often in the form of all-you-can-drink liquor). You order little dishes which are shared with all participants. Drunken merrymaking ensues.
When guests arrive all wait staff will shout at the tops of their lungs. They say things like ‘Irasshaimase’ which means welcome.
When guests leave they will thank them, and the rest of the restaurant, again at the tops of their lungs.
For me, it’s great entertainment and definitely part of the charm at Yamachan.
At peak times when it is very crowded the staff might tell you that you can stay a maximum of 2 hours. That is not because you are a foreigner and you are being discriminated against. This is part of Japanese culture. Japanese simply head to the next Izakaya nearby and continue drinking. Something you are free to do as well.
Speaking of peak times, sometimes you will need to wait to get a seat. That’s just a reality in Japan. You will have to write your name on a list and they will call your name when they have space for you.
Peak time is usually on Fridays and Saturdays from 6 p.m. Yamachan opens every day at 5 p.m. or 5:30 p.m. and stays open until the middle of the night.
The Menu at Yamachan
As I mentioned before, menus at Sekai no Yamachan in Nagoya are available in English.
They also have big delicious looking pictures.
The most famous dish at Sekai no Yamachan are the chicken wings, called Tebasaki. That’s why the mascot is a chicken guy.
Tebasaki are seasoned with different spices and deep-fried twice to crispy perfection. The inside is juicy and of course, steaming hot.
According to Yamachan, there is a correct way to eat chicken wings. You will find the instructions on the paper wrapped around your chopsticks.
I have to admit I couldn’t really figure out how to eat them the Yamachan way. Maybe you can.
One serving of Tebasaki consists of 5 wings, but if you are crazy (or together with a lot of friends) you can order a mountain of chicken wings as in the picture on the menu. It’s 20 servings, meaning 100 wings!
They also have a different version of Tebasaki made in a dark sauce. They are also delicious and a little bit more juicy than the other ones.
Other Nagoya Meshi
Sekai no Yamachan is really proud about being a restaurant that originated in Nagoya and their menu reflects that.
How do I know that?
Because of the food they serve.
This is a crazy amount of Nagoya Meshi for one establishment. I suggest you try all of it, but be aware that these dishes will taste even better at specialty restaurants in Nagoya.
The drink menu is also huge. Different types of beer, countless cocktails, variations of Chuhi and Sour, Sake and Shochu, as well as a wide selection of non-alcoholic drinks.
You will definitely find something you like.
The Price at Yamachan in Nagoya
Sekai no Yamachan isn’t expensive.
But it isn’t that cheap either, to be honest.
Last time I visited we had a bill of 4000 yen for two people. And we both only had one drink.
What I am trying to say is, have fun and enjoy the food and drinks, but don’t accidentally spend your whole travel budget in one evening.
One drink will cost you around 500 yen. That goes for a glass of beer as well as for cocktails, or Chuhi.
Food is between 250 and 700 yen averaging somewhere under 500 yen. But portion sizes aren’t that big so if you are really hungry, or want to try many different things your bill can get pretty expensive quickly.
So, keep your budget in mind and have fun!
Locations of Sekai on Yamachan
Sekai no Yamachan can be found all over Japan. There are a total of 75 restaurants all over Japan. With the highest concentration of shops in Nagoya, followed by Tokyo.
It’s just way too much of a hassle to create a custom map to list all Sekai no Yamachan in Nagoya. And today I really don’t have to. The official website of Yamachan has taken care of that for me.
If you visit this link you will get a map with all Sekai no Yamachan locations in different areas.
Alternatively, you can also simply put ‘Yamachan’ into your Google Maps on your phone and see where the closest shop is located.
I was surprised to learn that Sekai no Yamachan is international now. They have franchises in Hong Kong, Thailand, Taiwan, and Malaysia.
Final Thoughts on Sekai no Yamachan in Nagoya
Visiting Sekai no Yamachan in Nagoya for dinner (as one of the things to do in Nagoya at night) is really easy, even for foreign tourists. They will make you feel welcome, you get to drink and eat delicious things and just enjoy the end of a great day in Nagoya.
Yamachan is the final stop of the Nagoya Meshi Food Tour we organize every day. When you join you can try delicious Tebasaki together with a drink of your choice. There are 7 other delicious snacks and dishes you will also get to try during the tour. Check this page for more details.
You could also read about these dishes from Nagoya next:
If you enjoyed this post don’t forget to pin it to your ‘Japan Travel’ board on Pinterest. Or you could create a ‘Foodie Travel’ board for all the delicious foods you want to try while traveling!
In love with Japan and its amazing food, Lena wants to share her passion with the world. That’s why she started Nagoya Foodie. To teach about Nagoya, her adoptive home online through blog posts and offline through unique food tours.