08 December 2013

Eating Japan, Part 9

Check out the other posts in this series, Eating Japan to see what I've been consuming in my new country!  You can also find a link to the Eating Japan series on the top of any page!

I"m not sure why I didn't do this before, but I'm going to start including a link to a google map for each location that we've eaten at.  Just click the link at the end of each description and a new window will pop up with the location.

There is this big Chinese restaurant on Route 58 that everyone passes all of the time, including us.  For months, every time we drove past it, I said, "I want to go there one day".  I know, so deep, right?

So months later, I'm not sure what actually led to us pulling into the parking lot, but we did, we entered this huge restaurant, and were seated at a private-ish table near the front windows.  I say private-ish because we were surrounded by blinds and beaded curtains.  I love the separation of tables here in Japan, private without feeling closed in.  Anyway, we were handed 2 menus, a set menu in Japanese and an a la carte menu in both Japanese and English.  We decided to go with the Japanese menu, which we sort of figured out some of the food on it, but didn't realize how the set menus actually worked here.  Once we confused our waiter completely, he found an English set menu for us.  Comparing the two menus we realized that they weren't the same, so we were determined to order off that Japanese menu.  What we learned was the 'set menu' is for the entire table. So you pick which set you want based on how many people are in your group, some of the dishes automatically come with the set and others you get to choose.  We ended up with 7 dishes, some were to share: vegetables stir fried in oyster sauce, sweet and sour white fish (shown below and DELICIOUS), roasted pork fried rice, and another dish I can't remember.  Other dishes were served individually: corn soup and two types of dessert.

I wasn't cheap, I think something close to ¥4000-¥5000 ($40-$50), but it was nice to try a variety of dishes and it all tasted very good.  I'd definitely go back, maybe ordering a la carte just to save a few dollars.

Directions to Toyo Hanten.

A perk of living so close to so many other countries is that when our friends go on vacation, they bring us goodies from all over the place.  This summer, in exchange for dog sitting our friends chocolate lab, they not only watched Sammy when we went away, but they brought us back North Korean wine.  They obtained this while vacationing in South Korea, not North Korea if you needed any clarification on that.  We all know that I enjoy wine and I don't discriminate.  But. This. Wine.  It was like no other wine anyone would ever make.  We all tried it one, err... morning at our regular brunches.  I'm not sure how to describe the taste of this, but it was not of any sort of wine.  I would say it's closer to a cordial, but not really even close.  Doing a quick search online, it seems like Kanggye Wine Factory is North Korea's leading wine producer.  Oh god, I can't even imagine the non leading wines.  Ugh.  But, it was an experience to try, and pretty entertaining when we were all standing around staring at each others disgusted faces.  I'm keeping the bottle for sure because North Korea. Duh.  

Shit...my blog is probably gonna get flagged or something like that for all this NK talk.  Politics aside, their wine is not tasty.

I believe pork is it's own section of the food pyramid here in Okinawa.  Rafute is probably one of the most famous dishes here, and I've even made it myself a bunch of times.  Let me just say this: It is fucking delicious.  It's fatty and meaty and it melts in your mouth and it leaves your belly happy.  This is what happens when you take a big slab of pork belly and simmer it and boil it and simmer it again in sake and just a few other ingredients.  It's messy and time consuming to cook, but it's so worth it if you can find a decent piece of pork belly (it's impossible not to find it here).  Of course, if you're really craving it, nearly any restaurant will have it on their menu.

JA farmers markets are one of the best places to shop for produce in Okinawa.  There is a fairly new one located in Yomitan (link to map below), and I believe at this location they produce all of the prepared foods for the local JA's.  In addition to produce, the larger JA markets like this one carry beautiful local (exotic) flowers, meats, some fish, condiments, some household goods and gifts, snacks, and a large selection of prepared foods.  They also sell plants and gardening supplies next door.  On this particular day I grabbed this to-go meal and sat outside on a picnic table for lunch.  This cost me ¥250 ($2.50ish) and is a bowl of white rice topped with salad on the left, roasted pork in the middle, and a stir fry of greens, carrots, onions and tofu.  It was delicious, fresh, filling and cheap.  What more could you ask for.

Directions to the Yomitan JA Market.

Oh man, Pineapple World. It's actually called Pineapple Park but I keep calling it Pineapple World.  It's soooo freaking touristy it's funny. I do want to start off with a disclosure.  I do NOT recommend taking a trip north ONLY for Pineapple Park.  It's not worth that. But if you are up in the Nago area doing a bunch of things for the day, it's definitely worth a stop in.  And if you're going, you're going to want to pay the ¥600 to ride the Pineapple Mobile.  It's a pineapple shaped golf cart that automatically drives you and your group around the gardens and speaks to you (they have a bunch of languages you can choose from), explaining what you are passing and the history of pineapples.  Our favorite factoid that we bring up everytime we see a pineapple was "Do you know where the word pineapple came from?  Pine and Apple." HA!

Once you get off your pineapple tour, I recommend you find the walking path and walk back through where the little cart took you.  It won't take too much time, but you'll be able to see a lot more of the pineapple fields and other gardens.  Then you'll be directed through one of the biggest tourist traps I've seen here on the island.  It's a maze of everything pineapples and gift stuff.  You get to sample almost anything you see, including tons of pineapple wine (mega sweet), pineapple (best pineapples ever!), pineapple cakes and pies (yum!), etc...  There's also a restaurant, and I knew exactly what we were getting. A giant pineapple parfait for ¥1300.  It was a  monster I tell you.  It was really good, and there was so much pineapple in it that even Aaron and I couldn't finish it.  Pineapple, pineapple shortbread(?) cookies, pineapple sorbet (we wished it was ice cream), pineapple pound cake, pineapple syrup, corn flakes (great addition!) and whipped cream.  Oh, and a cherry for good measure.  

Directions to Pineapple Park.

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  1. My daughter is in Oki, and loves the Pineapple Park. She sent me some wine for Christmas..I havent had a chance to enjoy it yet, maybe when she comes home for a visit in May 2014. I really enjoy your blog.

    1. Thank you so much for your comment! Pineapple wine is definitely interesting! The pineapples here are so flavorful, unlike any I've ever had. Thanks for stopping by!