302016Jun

Okinawa Soba

You can’t avoid Okinawa Soba if you wanted to on this island. Everywhere you turn, you’ll see a shop serving up this classic that you probably never seen outside of Japan. Not sure why this local dish hasn’t made it to the popup scene. Maybe that’s a good thing. Let’s keep this local secret here. And whenever I want another bowl, I’ll just have to come back to the Ryukyu Islands. I don’t mind, really.

There’s a whole bit of history behind this bowl of noodles, including its misclassification as a soba noodle. But putting that aside, it’s a lighter noodle soup than its close relative, ramen. Made with pork as its primary protein along with the pork broth, you’d expect the bowl to be overpowering, but it was nothing like that. It was perfect, especially when you’re dealing with the summer heat.

Although, in a span of seven days I’ve had about five meals that involved Okinawa Soba, I’m only going to highlight three. Not like the others were bad. These were the eye opening belly happy places that if you could only pick one, I’d say try one of these. I mean that’s why you’re here reading this right?

Hamaya Soba (浜屋そば)
2-99 Miyagi, Nakagami
Chatan, Okinawa Prefecture 904-0113, Japan
+81 98-936-5929

This was my favorite place. It was the third helping of soba for the week and instead of getting overloaded, I got re-energized over the stuff. It actually felt more like “Why didn’t I eat here all week?” I happened to be snorkeling right by the restaurant along the Sunabe Seawall and looked up this place for a post swim meal. What a find!

The place is foreigner friendly with their signs, menus, and staff. And I guess it must be pretty popular because a film crew was on location filming the kitchen. Not a bad sign. So how was the bowl? Simply delicious. Even on a hot day I found myself finishing the bowl completely. I guess I needed to stay hydrated. I can’t say the same for the jushi rice. Only able to get through half of it before deciding not to stuff myself.

Verdict

Must go! Get some snorkeling in while you’re out here.

 

Teianda (てぃあんだー)
1 Chome-6-10 Ameku
Naha, Okinawa Prefecture 900-0005, Japan
+81 98-861-1152
teianda.com

Now this was the first place I had Okinawa Soba. It was nearby where I was staying by so I stopped by. It had a small coffee shop feel. A small space for you and your friends to stop by and get a bowl of noodles. It’s self serve when it comes to getting water, but I was there to try out this much talked about bowl of goodness. After trying out all types of soba throughout the week, I had to place this on the list. They delivered a solid rendition of this classic.

They’re situated behind a shopping center and difficult to get to without a car. Parking is on the other side of the street (in case you can’t read Japanese).

Verdict

If you happen to be close by and don’t want to deal with tourists and crowds. Don’t go too late because they did run out of their jushi rice.

 

Banjutei (番所亭)
473 Kina, Nakagami District
Yomitan, Okinawa Prefecture 904-0302, Japan
+81 50-5872-5326

We were on the hunt for beni-imo (purple sweet potato) soba noodles, but we arrived late and they were out. However, they had something else for us to try, a bowl of Okinawa Soba made with green noodles. That was interesting to try and write about. Because of the creativity, it made the list. Sure there’s the purple noodles to try next time, but to keep within the theme of this post, it’s about the noodle soup, which surprisingly enough was good.

This restaurant was had English menus which helped in the service department for ordering food. However, the rest is up to you if you wanted water or tea. They have a machine which you need to know a bit of Japanese or even Chinese to use. Keep that Google translate close at hand.

Verdict

Swing by for beautiful photos of food that won’t leave your tummy disappointed.

252014Jan

Vineyards Before The Farmstead

Airbnb, what a great service. For a friend’s birthday, we booked a room out in Napa Valley. Wine country for those who don’t know. It’s a little getaway for those of us in Northern California. Only an hour away from San Francisco. I do wonder why I don’t go as often as I should. Gotta thank my friend for thinking of this. Actually, it was her husband who arranged everything. A weekend, in a beautiful house with room enough for ten, nestled in the little town of St. Helena.

What does one do in Napa? Well, go visit the vineyards and do some tastings.

Unfortunately, my palette isn’t all that great when it comes to wine. I can tell some grapes apart and when something horrible versus something that’s smooth. That’s about it. Luckily the group had some experts to explain things to me while I downed glasses of reds and whites remembering all so well to keep my pinky up. Just kidding. You wine lovers can kick me for that one.

An important tip while doing the tastings. They usually charge you for tastings, around $20-$25USD. The fee is waved if you end up buying, up to a certain amount of course. And it’s a good thing to plan. Pick out the vineyards you’d like to try, making sure they’re close to one another, and most importantly, make sure you have a sober driver. Yeah, hardcore drinkers, you can still get yourself toasted and the speed limit here is small town speeds. Slow. On the other hand, you can plan it out and take your time. Bring some cheeses and some cured meats and take your time. We did that at Pride Mountain. They have a picnic area at the top of their vineyard over looking part of the valley. Talk about a view. This was well worth the drive up. I should also mention, the place was very accommodating after we bought some bottles there. They lent us glasses and utensils for our picnic. Now that’s class. As the day settled down and we realized it was time to do what Napa was also known for, it’s restaurants, we quickly packed up and heading back down.

There’s plenty of fantastic places to eat in Napa and I’m sure I’ll be adding more to restaurants to this site. For tonight, though, it was the Farmstead, at Long Meadow Ranch – a Southern style restaurant priding itself in grass fed beef and organic ingredients. It delivered in quality and in execution. Since it was a large party and a special occasion a prix fixe family style menu was offered. Three courses with a great assortment of their popular dishes. And to make it easy for us, we could ask for more of any dish once we got to try each dish. Set, match, game for food coma. By the time we were finished, so was I. Yet, somehow we continued drinking back at the house, until 1am. Or that’s when they told me I had passed out.

Yay to birthdays!

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