My mission to find and re-experience old meal haunts, I managed to hunt down Restaurant Highway Drive-In a good mile further down the busy artery street past Koza Four Corners than I had previously thought. Funny how your memories can play tricks like that, I was so sure of the location!
There's some parking adjacent to the building but barely, and if you can tell by the looks obviously no car hops, haha. So despite the naming it's a bona fide Shokudo. Shokudo - loosely defined as a type of very accessible Japanese diner.
Humble, but a place that exudes an older style of class where cooks still wear crisp white starch pressed shirts and hats with pride and reserved waitresses are genuinely nice despite the lack of any culture of tipping.
Their soup which comes with most meal sets is pretty well known and popular. My description would be a sort of a light potage but thickened not with pulverized starchy vegetables and cream but with instead some flour (a guess). As with any good soup it has a proper stock as a base but the subtle floury flavor would be something once attached to you'd be hard pressed to find a similar substitute anywhere else.
As how Marunaka's was the B-Set, here at HWDI the C-Set would be where it's at.
A pork katsu, scrambled egg and hamburg patty protein trio (with rice, salad, soup) that would cost a mere 580-yen (~$5.80).
And you really can't go wrong with anything else on the menu either.
The crisp and tender Pork Katsu was typical Okinawa shokudo wider and thinner. Fluffy scrambled egg folded with a nice light brown sear, and the oishii hamburg as with the house soup, simple but delicious, made with sauteed onions and simple spices.
My first meal of the day this hit the spot like Gushiken's southpaw. Too bad I had other agendas or I could've happily eaten here throughout my short week stay. The guy next to me pouring shoyu on his cast iron platter sizzling butter wafu steak looked like something I could really get into while I found out about their White Curry online too late.
Unlike other popular shokudos and restaurants plastered with autographs you won't find any here, at least not yet. Highway Drive-in may not have a celebrity following at the moment but I was glad to see it still loved by the locals and doing strong. Someone's gotta keep making that soup!