Nom Nom Nom

June 30, 2009 § Leave a comment

Bryan and I have experimented quite a bit with the cuisine of Okinawa. While in Arizona we normally limit ourselves to Mexican and American (i.e., chips and salsa and anything you can grill), we have really made an effort here to try different things. The main thing that makes it difficult for us to really sample traditional Okinawan/Japanese cuisine is that, unless the signs are written in English, we do not know if we are looking at a restaurant or what type of restaurant a place is just by looking at it. This really limits us to the locations with English signs, and of course these are the places that are purposely trying to attract Americans. They have full-color English menus with photographs, hefty prices, and are full of loud, obnoxious Americans and their loud, obnoxious children. I have nothing against Americans, of course, but when you are sitting in a restaurant trying to enjoy some nice teppanyaki (steak grilled on your table by a Japanese chef), it would be nice to be able to hear the person you are sitting next to.

That said, we have been to some really amazing restaurants here, whether they cater to Americans or not. Sam’s-By-The-Sea overlooks a bay in Okinawa City and serves absolutely amazing steak and seafood. It was very spendy, but the pirate ship decor, tiki torches, view, and food were worth the big price tag. They also serve tropical drinks in collector’s glasses shaped like skulls, coconuts, and Shisa dogs that you get to take home. We chose the Shisas–they are these traditional ceramic dogs that the Okinawans place at the front of their homes to ward off bad spirits. Our little Shisa glasses will have to suffice for now, because the ceramic Shisas are around $400 for a set!

So here is Bryan with his Shisa glass…
And here I am with a drink I got in a Skull glass. Arrrrr!
And here is a close-up of our Shisa drink. We got a set to take home (clean and boxed, not the glasses we drank out of here), and they are now sitting on our microwave. Hopefully we will get our own Shisas to sit outside of our house and guard against evil spirits. They are really cute and I love driving around Okinawa and spotting the Shisas outside everyone’s houses!

While Sam’s-By-The-Sea was great, it was more of a place for a special occasion than a regular haunt. Last Sunday we were driving around town, running errands, and we were both very hungry. We saw a place that looked like a restaurant, but the sign was in Japanese so we weren’t sure what type of restaurant it was. We did, however, spot the “All You Can Eat and Drink!” banner….sign us up! It turned out to be one of the coolest restaurants we have ever been to. It is a Korean BBQ, where you grill all of your food right at your table. For $20, we got all of the meat we could handle–the only caveat was that we had to eat it all, or we would be charged a food disposal surcharge!

This is Bryan prepping the grill–he’s so excited to have found a place where you can grill your own food!
Here I am enjoying my Kimchi, a spicy Korean vegetable dish. I loooove it!
Bryan’s beautiful presentation of our food as it grills.
Bryan manning the grill…
The finished product…nom nom nom.
This is a close-up of the kimchi…Bryan tells me that it is rotten (literally), but I still love mixing it with my rice and meat.
And, of course, the bill. For $20 all-you-can eat (and $14 all you can drink in 2 hours, though we didn’t try that one out–the DUI laws here are very strict), this was a great deal! But our bellies were very full afterwards…

Some other great finds: Pancake House, a tiny hole-in-the-wall where they serve up tasty pancakes. This restaurant is located in someone’s house, the pancakes are very good, and the service is wonderful. The only downside–all Americans (that’s the basic pattern here). Obbligato is a Mexican food restaurant near our house, and while it’s no Salty’s, it was pretty good for a Mexican food restaurant in Japan. We will probably return one of these days, but it won’t be as regularly as our old favorite, the Salty Senorita. Finally, our most adventurous moment was when we were starving and driving around in an area with NO English signs anywhere. These is very rare. After what seemed like hours of searching, I spotted a tiny restaurant (at least, I thought it was a restaurant). We had no idea what it was, if they would welcome us, etc. But we took a chance and went in–and found a tiny soba restaurant. Soba is a traditional Okinawan noodle/soup dish. We definitely stood out as the only Americans, but we chose our soba from a picture on the wall and enjoyed our meal quite a bit.

Many of you are probably wondering why I haven’t mentioned sushi. Sushi is one of my favorite foods, but Bryan can barely stomach it. There is a restaurant with a revolving conveyor belt of sushi right near our house that we went in to once, but they didn’t have anything on the menu except for sushi, so I let Bryan off the hook. There are a few places near our home that look like they might have sushi and other items as well, so we will have to check those out soon!

And last but not least, possibly our favorite restaurant–home. We have such an incredible patio, now complete with tiki torches (filled with Citronella oil to ward off the skeeters), a patio set, and a grill that I bought Bryan for Father’s Day. So we grill out at home almost every night and enjoy our ocean view! We’re planning to have a 4th of July BBQ this weekend to show of our beautiful home to Bryan’s work colleagues, so I’ll have more pics of that coming soon!
This is a picture of Bryan messing around at home with the Japanese gardening hat we bought to send to Hayley. He’s such a goofball!
Here is Bryan showing off the meat before we christen the new grill for the first time:
Putting the meat on the grill…note the beautiful view from our patio!
The meat cooking…obviously.
And, the finished product…Bryan is a really great barbecuer!

I will leave you with a shot that Bryan took that really captures the mood of our wonderful patio…the Corona bottle, the funny little ashtray, the sun, the ocean view. We are in heaven here!


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