24 July 2013

Eating Japan, Part 4

I love loving food.  I'm sure you've figured that out by now.  I also love posting things here at Kacey's Kitchen that make other people happy, and I've gotten a great response from this series, so thank you for your comments.  Check out Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3 if you haven't already.

There are many places around the island called Okinawa Soba House.  A few months ago (oh my gosh, I can't believe we've been here this long already) we tried out Hanakinah Okinawa Soba House which is located on 81 across from House of 66 Cents fabric store.  We loved this place.  It's very open and clean and the entire back wall is windows over looking the old housing on Camp Foster.  We were handed English menus and pointed to the self service teas & water area (this is very common here) and had a really hard time deciding what to get.  As usual, we both ordered a set meal,

Casa de Carmen is another American Village find, and one of my favorites so far.  Not many people I've talked with tried this place or even have heard of it even though it's street level right next to the main parking lot.  I came here for lunch alone one day after running errands and had the whole place to myself, which was nice because it gave me the opportunity to chat it up with the woman running the front end of things (the ownder stays in the back to cook).  It's a really cute and tiny place, and it was nice to sit inside but have the whole front of the store open to feel the breeze.  For about ¥900 I ordered a spicy fish dish (I can't remember exactly what it was called) served with rice.  Prior to my meal, they also brought me a brothy soup and a spicy roasted pine nuts, which were delicious as well.  It's definitely a place I want to go back to, and bring Aaron along with me this time.

You might remember this picture from my post about the Azalea Festival over at Where in the World is Kacey?!?.  It's hard NOT to find takoyaki around here.  I'm pretty sure it's got to be Japan's #1 street food.  Quoting myself from that post..."It's a doughy ball filled with octopus (tako), green onion, and ginger which is cooked in this special grill pan.  After it's done cooking, it's coated in a takoyaki sauce which is like a bbq sauce with mayonnaise and bonito flakes.  There are a lot of variations of this, but the dough and octopus stay the same, otherwise it would be a different dish.  I really enjoy takoyaki, but with a little less sauce.  This guy was drowning in it.  Just my preference though."

While hunting for a new lunch place in town near our side of the base, we kept striking out finding all these places to go that were only open at night.  Eventually hunger was getting the best of us and we agreed that the next place we saw that was open we'd stop in.  This is how we stumbled upon the Udon chain called Marugame Seimen.  We actually had no idea what it was called until I found something in the restaurant with it's facebook page, so I was able to look it up.  Here you are able to order a variety of Udon dishes, hot or cold, small or large which are made in house with 100% Japanese wheat flour and cooked in front of you.  You are handed your bowl and then you grab a tray and an additional plate and self-pick any tempura, inari, or omusubi. You then pay (the Udon is about ¥450 (large) and each tempura/inari/omusubi is around ¥100.  After you pay, there are various condiments and toppings you can add, including more soup.  Hot tea and water are self service as well.  Below is my Torotama Udon (the foamy looking white stuff on the left is sticky yam topping).  Of course it has my favorite soft boiled egg.  I topped mine with tenkasu (tempura crumbs) and lots of green onion (I actually went back for more after this picture was taken).  I think there is a location on 58, but the one we went to is at the intersection of 224 and 75.

A girl from New Jersey would assume that she wouldn't be able to find a decent bagel when moving to Japan.  After all, there weren't any bagel places in Oklahoma...or in Florabama.  A girl from New Jersey moving to Okinawa would be pleased to find out she assumed wrong.  Very wrong.  A great bagel/sandwich shop called Cactus Eatrip is only about 15 minutes south of our base on Route 58.  Once you pull into the 'parking lot', you'll realize that you need to pull a fancy Tetris maneuver or ask the super friendly owner to move your car for you - I'm looking at you Mrs. O!  He'll do it, no questions asked with a smile on his face.  He and his wife make the bagels every morning, and they taste like it.  It's so refreshing.  They might not be large, but they are tasty.  And a variety of flavors too...blueberry, basil tomato, everything, oreo, or my favorite black pepper, and more!  They have a bunch of bagel sandwiches: scrambled egg & lox, avocado & tomato, roasted chicken (approx ¥450).  For a bagel with cream cheese, it'll run you between ¥250 - ¥300, but they have a ton of options.  Maple cream cheese, honey peanut, anko cream cheese, rum raisin creamcheese, and more.  They have a pretty good sized drink menu as well, anything from french pressed (I think) coffees and expressos, mango juice, cocktails, awamori, beer, and my favorite, Iced Ryukyu Rosemary Tea.  In addition to bagel sandwiches, they offer a soup of the day and some cookies.  It might take a little bit of time for your food to come out, but everything tastes great and is well worth it.  It's really a place you want to go with a friend and hang out a while. It completely brings me back to New England hippy coffee joints.  It's definitely a favorite here!

You guessed it, there's more to come for the Eating Japan Series, so keep a look out!

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