Off busy Kokusai Street in Naha City, Okinawa, there is the Heiwa-dori indoor shopping arcade. Name translating to "Peace Street," I'm guessing it was created sometime after the war but in any case the nicely aged patina of the place you can sense it's been around forever.
Through one of the many tiny side alleys is a Shokudo as old as the arcade, the Hanagasa Shokudo. The Hanagasa in Okinawa is a very large bright colored festive hat worn during certain Okinawan dance performances.
I remember my mom performing in one during her learning of Ryukyu Odori phase. The Hanagasa is one of many ubiquitous icons to Okinawan culture next to the Shisa guardian dogs and Goya bitter melon.
Hanagasa's location and the fact that they've been around so long, I noticed they've become somewhat touristy. From experience usually not the best sign for having the greatest food but they do offer many classic island dishes. My friend and I decided to hop in for old times sake.
I got the Tebichi set which is stewed pigs feet. (You can read about my great Tebichi Soba at Hanaori Soba here.)
In contrast my friend's very ordinary Yakiniku set. Looked a little dry.
Man this Tebichi was super old school. Very pale colored and lightly flavored. These days they're seasoned a little stronger and stewed to a bit darker coloration.
I'm not sure if it's the copious amount of Awamori sake or the use of a pressure cooker (probably a combination of both) but Okinawan Tebichi is almost always fall apart tender. The completely rendered gelatinous skin will wiggle like jello and the meats can be easily chopsticked through without much trouble. These were no exception and despite the fleshy, slightly unappetizing look, were quite good.
We shared a side of Rafute (sometimes spelled Rafti), stewed pork belly. The meat layer was on the tougher side and so we had better renditions but it was flavored nicely (lightly sweet soy sauce) and was covered in a tasty miso glaze.
If you're here the visit to the Makishi Public Market which is contained within the confines of the Heiwadori maze is a must.
Pork rules in Okinawa. I doubt I have any vegan readers so I'm going all out with photos.
There's also a fish market side... Ise-ebi lobster, some Uni a must. :)
Many local exotic looking fish. Here is the Irabuchi.
This can be had as sashimi or cooked most any which way. It's hellish to fillet though, I've watched a fisherman once and he used a pair of blunt nose pliers to skin certain portions.
On the other hand the bright pink Gurukun below is a popular prized sports fish.
I don't know what's next to it. My fond memory of Gurukun is going offshore fishing with my older cousin and getting really really seasick, haha. Upstairs is a giant food court where you can try many of Okinawa's delicacies. Was a little empty this day but it was also December, not prime tourist season for the subtropical island.
When is San Diego getting their own awesome indoor market?? I feel the SD Farmers Market off Imperial has potential to be so much greater. Anyone agree?
Anyhow hope you enjoyed these. Ah, seems like it's going to be another beautiful Sunday. :)