Rinken's Kitchen is a renowned restaurant that's situated next to the Sunset Beach at Chatan in the central part of Okinawa, Japan. It's frequently visited by not only international, but also domestic tourists looking to discover unique Okinawan food and music.
Okinawan cuisine is highly influenced by its Chinese counterpart, and to a smaller extent, American as well. Will you be interested to try some of the dishes that can only be found in Okinawa, but not in the rest of Japan?
Pig's Ear with Cream Peanut Sauce ¥400 (~S$4.90)
There's a saying that goes something like this: Okinawans love pork so much to the point of using every part of the animal, save for its squeal. While the ears weren't as crunchy as I thought they'd be, they were a joy to munch on, coated with light peanut sauce that was mildly sweet and creamy.
Sea Grapes ¥480 (~S$5.85)
Those delicate green pearls aren't a type of fruit, but a kind of seaweed eaten raw in Okinawa. I dipped them into soy sauce and let the soft and succulent bubbles burst in my mouth, releasing the tang of the sea. Pika's advice: According to a friend, he has spotted sea grapes in Osaka before. You can try to find them there if you're not travelling to Okinawa. Also, you can try them in different styles in Sabah, Malaysia and the Philippines.
Pig's Trotter ¥900 (~S$11.00)
I guess I can't emphasise enough how much I love the signature dish of the restaurant. I was served with possibly the best deep-fried trotters that were devilishly delicious and rich in collagen. Even after being slabbed with a kind of addictively sweet sauce, the coating retained its perfect crunch.
Goya Champuru ¥700 (~S$8.55)
Chinese-style stir-fried bitter gourd with pork, tofu cubes and eggs? Well, more or less so. Goya (ゴーヤー) is a perennially favourite vegetable in the prefecture, which I found to be mildly bitter unlike some that can be found here in Southeast Asia. The dish was well-balanced in terms of taste without being oily.
Taco Rice ¥700 (~S$8.55)
Think of the well-known Tex-Mex dish, but replace the tortilla with Japanese rice. Taco rice was born in Okinawa, thanks to the presence of the US military personnel. While not exceedingly delicious, the rice topped with ground beef, lettuce, tomatoes, cheese and salsa was pretty fulfilling.
Mihama Roll ¥980 (~S$11.95)
Taking its name from the district where the restaurant is located, the seemingly usual troop of sushi was extraordinary in terms of taste and freshness. The salmon, tuna and prawns were lusciously sweet, topped with crunchy caviar. The avocado used, which can't really be seen in the picture above, was pretty creamy.
Okinawan Doughnuts ¥250 (~S$3.05)
Despite its local name of sata andagi (サーターアンダーギー), literally meaning the 'deep-fried sugar', the crispy buns studded with sesame seeds were actually mildly sweet. They were a tad too dry for my liking though, but good enough to be eaten with tea. This particular snack is also popular in Hawaii, the USA.
Hot Goya Tea ¥500 (~S$6.10)
The regional bitter gourd tea was aromatic with just a little bit of a bitter taste that soon turned faintly sweet on the tongue. It's said that one's blood sugar level can be effectively lowered upon regular intake of the tea.
Taste: 8/10Ambience: 8/10
What made the dinner even more memorable was the live Okinawan folk songs by highly enthusiastic performers. Kudos to them! :)
Below is a random shot not far from the restaurant. I'll upload more pictures in the next review.
8-11 Aza Mihama
(Daily: 5.00pm - 11.00pm)
*Prices quoted are nett prices.
Have a nice meal,Cliff(y)