Thursday, March 31, 2016

Surfside Restaurant

Location: Surfside Restaurant

Rating: Not great
Meal: Dinner for 3
Price: $36.40
Payment: Credit cards accepted
Dishes:Fried rice, mongolian chicken, pizza
English Menu:Yes
Smoking: No

I was hopeful that the restaurant at the Okuma Beach Resort, which is run by Kadena Air Force Base in Okinawa, would be better than the usual base restaurant fare I've had everywhere else...that is...not great.  Unfortunately, it met all my expectations, and we avoided the place after that except for breakfast a couple of times.

Campbell's soup (probably)

My son had fried rice which he thought was ok, I had a "mongolian" chicken of some kind that was bleh, and then there was the pizza, which looked like it might be good but once again we were treated to virtually nil flavor on crust that tasted like cardboard.  Astonishing really.

Pizza ala cardboard

Fried Rice
Mongolian chicken

Hotto Motto

Location: Hotto Motto

Rating: OK
Meal:  Breakfast for 2
Price: 1180 yen
Payment: Cash only
Dishes: Spam champuru, oyakodon, tonjiru
English Menu: Yes
Smoking: No

Hotto Motto is not unique to Okinawa, but we don't have a lot of them in Yokosuka, so it was kind of fun to see them everywhere when we were on vacation there.  Also, they are open 24 hours (generally) which means breakfast is available!  Not that it's any different than what they server all the time, but I'm not really a breakfast food person anyway, so that suits me fine.

I was sent over one morning from our hotel to get some breakfast and I came back with an oyakodon (chicken and egg dish my son likes) and spam champuru (spam with stir fried vegetables on rice).  I also got some tonjiro (pork broth soup). It hit the spot for what it was.


Location: Wahaha
Rating: OK
Meal:  Dinner for 2
Price: 3390 yen (includes awamori)
Payment: Credit cards accepted
Dishes: Fu champuru, okinawan pancake (hirayachi), tofu-yo
English Menu: Yes
Smoking:Yes (lots)

After another late night of roller derby in Okinawa, my wife and I decided to walk down to this Okinawan izakaya called Wahaha that was really close to our hotel.  My son was satisfied with some conbini food, and we knew it would probably be smoky (yowzers, was it ever, my coat stank the next day).

Awamori with water and ice bucket

We were hoping to do our truly "okinawan" meal here (which means goya must be on the menu) but we were told they were all out.  I also wanted my wife to try "fu" champuru which is made with gluten that has the consistency of eggs.  This they had, along with an okinawan savory pancake (hirayachi) and tofu-yo (tofu fermented in awamori).  We also tried out some awamori, which wasn't as good as my favorite brand (Zuisen Couth FTW!) that I can get in Yokosuka.  (I did get to visit the Zuisen Distillery, so cool!)

Anyway, the food was all right here, but not amazing, and the smoke is a real turn off.


Okinawan pancake (hirayachi)

Dos Manos

Location: Dos Manos
Rating: Excellent
Meal:  Lunch for 3
Price:  3770 yen
Payment:  Cash only
Dishes: 2 lengua, 2 lamb, 2 chicken, 2 pork tacos, quesadilla, nachos, guacamole, salsa
English Menu: Yes
Smoking: No

It has finally happened...I have found the best Mexican restaurant in Japan (so far) and it is in Okinawa.  This is both fabulous and sad, as I don't exactly get down to Okinawa very often.  I ate here once before, when I was in Okinawa for work, and it has become a pilgrimage location for me.  Nowhere else have I found such authentic Mexican food.  Is everything great?  Not necessarily (the enchiladas and burritos aren't that great).  Do they have variety?  Again, not really.  But the tacos are amazing, as is the horchata, guacamole and salsa.  And...they have lengua...sweet, melt in your mouth lengua.  Also...lamb for some reason...but it's also great!  The pork and chicken is good too, but not as good in my opinion.


Other issue to be aware of are that Dos Manos has very funky hours.  They even say on their door to check Facebook for actual hours.  Basically they are closed Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, and only open about 4 to 5 hours.  So it can be tough to just drop by.  (They do dinners for groups though if you reserve ahead of time!  Hmmm...can I have my birthday in Okinawa this year?)  Also, though there is parking across the street, you cannot turn in there and have to go down to the next light and turn right then make your way back to the paid parking lot.  They will give you a 30 minute ticket though, making your out of pocket expense for parking very small (about 100 yen).

I have a friend who says there is a guy in Fukuoka who has managed to also make food as good as Dos Manos, and he has more variety.  Apparently there are now 4 or 5 stores open in that area.  But Fukuoka is also far away, so I haven't made it out there.  In the mean time...Dos Manos has the "best mexican food in Japan" crown as far as I'm concerned!

Four Seasons

Location: Four Seasons

Rating: Very good
Meal: Dinner
Price: 11,124 yen  (we did have some awamori in there too)
Payment: Credit cards accepted
Dishes: Too much food!
English Menu: Yes
Smoking: No

We are not big teppanyaki fans, having never really had it before.  Apparently, it's something many people think of when they think of Japanese food in the US.  Fancy knife shows, meat cooked in front of you on a teppan, etc...  This is not so common in Japan.  I mean, there are lots of teppans in various types of Japanese restaurants (especially okonomiyaki), but not so much of the cooking of meat in front of you and making a big show of it.  I guess it was big at one time, though never very showy.  Anyway, we've never eaten it before in Japan.

Near our hotel in Okinawa was a Four Seasons Teppanyaki restaurant, and since we'd never done it before (and we are on vacation, so we the price didn't seem quite so insane), we decided to give it a shot.  The ordering was a bit of a blur.  I think we ordered two "courses" for the adults, and one chicken steak for our son.  Holy cow...too much food!  It just kept coming and coming and the cook was standing right there in front of us and as my wife is fond of saying, we wouldn't want to disappoint him!  There was no "show" until the very end.  The garlic fried rice...  this was what attracted us to it in the first place.  The smell of garlic wafting down the street.  When I saw garlic fried rice on the menu, I knew it had to be mine, so I ordered some to go with the meal.  It was the *last* item cooked.  All this time, there was this huge mound of buttered garlic slowly cooking away on the edge of the teppan.  Finally, once it was golden brown, it was fried with the rice.  The chef did a little show with the salt and pepper shakers (yay) and then it was over.  I could barely eat another bite, but after all that, I *had* to eat that garlic rice.  It was...amazing.

If we were to eat there ever again, I think we would not order the courses and stick with a meat item and the garlic rice.  Bam.  Pictures:

Soup and salad

Chicken, tofu, vegetables, and garlic

Chicken, pork and tofu


More veg, tofu and garlic getting browner...

Lobster and tofu

The Garlic Rice!


Location: Nantoya
Rating: OK
Meal:  Lunch for 3
Price: 2430 yen
Payment: Cash only
Dishes: Soki Okinawan soba, Okinawan soba, pork bowl teishoku
English Menu: Yes
Smoking: No

This restaurant is located inside of Okinawa World, a theme park that I took my son and another boy to during our recent trip.  I do recommend the entire park, especially the caves and the Habu snake museum/show.  For lunch, we all settled on Nantoya in a food court area in one of the buildings.  They use a ticket vending machine for dishes, but everything is very clearly labeled in English.

Okinawan soba

I got a Soki Okinawan soba, which consisted of Okinawan soba noodles (which are not at all like actual soba noodles as they are not made from buckwheat) in a light broth with boiled pork of some kind.  It was pretty good.  I really liked the jushi (rice in with some veg cooked in a broth).

Pork rice bowl

One kid got a different soba dish, which just had some smaller pieces of soft cooked pork, and the other got a pork rice bowl.  No one complained about their food for once!

Soki okinawan soba

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Taiwanese Restaurant Catherine

Location: Taiwanese Restaurant Catherine

Rating: OK
Meal:  Dinner for 3
Price: 2400 yen
Payment: Cash only
Dishes: Chahan, fried rice noodles, beef and egg stir fry, noni chuhi 
English Menu: Yes

Our first restaurant in Okinawa, it's not far from Gate 2 of Kadena Air Base. Cheapest hotel we could find is nearby. I'm constrained to an iPhone for reviews, so don't expect much writing. This place was welcoming given it was past 9pm. Food was so so, but hit the spot.


Location: Boteju

Rating: Not great
Meal: Lunch for 2
Price: 3132 yen
Payment: Credit cards accepted
Dishes: 2 yakisoba-ish dishes, takoyaki, karaage
English Menu:Yes
Smoking: No

Rather bad spot in Narita Terminal 3. Wish we hadn't wasted a meal on it.