Review: Akatafu

4 March 2017

I love being able to get out of Tokyo each trip, and this time was to Okinawa. Sadly a very short stay of only 2 days due to scheduling issues, so I was basically limited to the capital of Naha. I wonder how many people who grew up having seen Karate Kid 2 wanted to see this place for themselves (well, it was not filmed in Okinawa, so…).

It was a very unpleasant flight on ANA, as it was boiling hot on-board. I was soaked in sweat by the time we landed 2.5 hours later (one of the longer domestic flights in Japan). I hopped on the Monorail (unpleasant surprise that they don’t take any of the smart cards from the mainland) and got to my hotel — and this cutie greeted me…

I chilled out for a bit and then headed all the way to the end of the Monorail line near the historic Shuri Castle for my dinner at Akatafu. I’ve heard it’s one of the best traditional Okinawa kaiseki places, and it had a rural charm about it, so not being able to get out of town this was the best choice. I remember how good Okinawan cuisine is from my excellent lunch at Akasaka Tan-tei in Tokyo a few trips ago.

I got there and I felt a bit guilty about being given the tatami room, but my leg kept falling asleep all night so the karma struck hard. But the aroma was enjoyable, augmented by the awamori that was just served…

awamuri

With some of the hard Okinawa drink in hand, the food began. First up, a local rolled pancake.

01b-miso pancake

Interesting, the pancake was soy-based and filled with aged miso. Quite nice, goes down with the booze very nicely. Then next up was a soup dish…

02-intestine soup

Oh my, one of my favourites — pig intestines. Lovely flavour, like some divine pasta dish for me…an offal lover’s dream. Nice! Then a fried dish of one of the most famous local produce, sweet potato.

03-fried sweet potato

The morsel of sweet potato paste worked really well, balancing sweet and savoury without either moving out of the range between subtle and strong. Nice tasting local item, a great drinking snack! With the awamori flowing, that was the point!

04b-pork_edited

Next up featured slices of pork grilled with a black sesame paste. This comes from the famous local pigs, and it was delicious. The taro was also good, and the very salty pickle made me reach for the awamori again! Again, that’s the point! Okinawans like their drink!

I was enjoying this meal, and it was going at a good and surprising pace. I like it. Slow enough for me to enjoy each dish and have a bit of time to enjoy the atmosphere and relax, fast enough to not make me drink excessively or be bored. A feat many Michelin restaurants fail miserably at — simple time management for service. Anyway, back to the food, the next one was a treat…

05-06-fishcake plate fermented tofu

So many good things, from a delicious runny egg to the really tasty fishcakes (another local specialty), as well as the stuffed seaweed rolls and the rather cutely-cut ika (squid) that was surprisingly delicious. Then they brought out another local staple, the fermented tofu…

Wow…they ferment this in awamori and it is INTENSE. The tofu is beyond recognition (see top left corner), and the miso is so strong here you’d need a few drinks to finish this. Wow…again, that was the point!

I needed more than a few sips of awamori after that and ordered yet another. Then at the same time the next dish arrived, and you really can create a market for this as a pasta replacement…

07b-seaweed noodle

Wow…the humble seaweed tossed with veggies and pork bits and it tastes like heaven. Forget using zucchini or something like that, try this! Wonderful dish. Then we have another amazing dish that has so much fusion potential…

08-pork potato

It’s basically pulled pork, with pork fatty chunks, all in a local potato mash. Oh my goodness, this is just dreamy… I can see so many BBQ places try this, but it works so well in the local sense, with this excellent pork. Wow… Then up next a salad…

09a-ear salad

No, it’s not jellyfish, it’s actually pigs ear! Excellent, with lots of cucumber and sprouts in a miso dressing. Another wow dish! I am so loving this dinner so far! I ordered even more awamori and voila, the next dish…

10-11-simmered pork seaweed rice

Oh. My. Goodness. This local pork is so amazingly good, braised with a heavenly aroma and even heavenlier (??) taste. I wish I can eat another dozen slices of this… The veg is fantastic, tastes of celery but I can’t quite make it out.

Then some rice, which is graced by seaweed and pork. Oh my…what a wonderful combination, but it also made me sad as we’re at the end… This was so darn good I could have continued on… Then the final item…

o

A nice, sweet and juicy local orange. Remember, Okinawa are tropical islands, so… A simple yet perfect way to close out this wonderful dinner. I have to say one of the meals of the year already!

I thanked them profusely and even cracked a quick joke with the other diners (my first joke in Japanese!) about me taking up the tatami room as “the guy all the way from New York” and headed back to the Monorail station.

This was a wonderful introduction to Okinawa for sure!!! Beyond highly recommended, a must if you head into Okinawa!

Akatafu [赤田風]
1-37 Shuriakatacho
Naha, Okinawa, Japan

Advertisements

One thought on “Review: Akatafu

  1. Pingback: Feasting in Okinawa…Oh My! | melhuang1972

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s