Wednesday, May 08, 2013

Taco Rice in Okinawa - Japan 2013 trip report part 11

Nearing the end of this trip report now - always a sad thing for me, because that's when it's really just a memory. But none too soon this time - I left for Japan almost a month ago, and returned more than 2 weeks ago! I'm already starting to forget details...

I do need to talk about Okinawa food. Okinawa's pretty interesting in that you're obviously in Japan, but the area has a really distinct local flavor - both figuratively and literally. The people look different (they are a different ethnicity), the cities feel different, it's all a lot more international, and the food has ingredients and flavors you would never, ever see in mainland Japan. You can get regular Japanese food in Okinawa, but being there just two days, we tried to cram in as much local Okinawa food as we could.

This is an actually pretty random shot of "International Street" (Kokusai Dori) in Naha. This street is great for souvenir shopping and has many beach- and tropical-themed stores, but we came here for one reason and one reason only: Charlie's Tacos.

Because when in Okinawa, you must eat Taco Rice.

(Ahem - please excuse my napkin.)

This taco rice is a little different than most in that the lettuce and tomato is on the side, but this is supposedly the original (or one of the original) versions of it. Charlie's Tacos began serving it in the 1950's, and I'm sure it's a post-war Asian/Western mashup, like a lot of things in Okinawa are. This may as well be the official dish of Okinawa at this point - it's like pizza in New York. And yes, it is basically just taco ingredients on rice. It is so good.

I forgot to get a pic of the outside of the restaurant, but here's one. It is not an easy restaurant to find, and there is no official web site.

I see a lot of people go to Charlie's Tacos (because it's famous), order actual Mexican food and then complain online about how bad the Mexican food is. Duh. Do not go to Okinawa and order Mexican food, please! Leave that for the locals, for whom Mexican food is still kind of exotic, if inauthentic. Order taco rice. That is what Charlie's Tacos is famous for, and it's a uniquely Okinawan thing.

CHARLIE'S TACOS KOKUSAI DORI
1-3-4 Matsuo, Naha, Okinawa Prefecture 900-0014, Japan
Tel: +81 98-861-9995
Reservations not required

More Okinawa food coming next!

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This is increasingly not a blog about Alphabet City, New York. I used to live in the East Village and work on Avenue B, but I no longer do. Why don't I change the name if I'm writing about Japan and video games and guitars? Because New Yorkers are well-rounded people with varied interests, and mine have gone increasingly off the rails over the years. And I don't feel like changing the name. I do still write about New York City sometimes.

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I'm married. I like to travel. I have no kids. I have a house... that I'm bad at maintaining. I used to collect classic video games. I own a lot of musical equipment that far outstrips my ability to use it. When I was younger, I was in a band. I like gadgets, and I'm an Android guy. Someday, I would like to live on a different planet.

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