Right cheese is key to right taste at Champion Tacos
Over the years, tacos and especially it’s Okinawan variation, taco rice, have become almost a staple on Okinawa and the favorite of many locals and visitors alike.
Although taco rice was originally created in a small food parlor in Kin, it has by now spread throughout Okinawa and to many places in mainland Japan as well. Almost every restaurant on Okinawa serves it, and it’s also sold in most supermarkets as a meal made ready to go.
Champion Tacos is one of the restaurants that specialize in tacos and taco rice. The restaurant has two branches, one in Yomitan and the other in Ginowan. It is a branch of Pizza Parco that itself has 20 pizza shops in Okinawa, including Miyako and Ishigaki islands.
When you enter in Champion Tacos Yomitan shop, there’s a food ticket vending machine, from which customers buy a ticket that they then hand over to the waitress in exchange for a meal. The machine only accepts yen, no other currency or credit cards. Menu in English is available.
Hiroki Kurihara, who works at Champion Tacos Yomitan shop explains, “We make our tacos from scratch, including the shells. and salsa sauce too. We use fresh lettuce and tomatoes from local farmers’ markets, and we make our own salsa, too. We are especially particular of our cheese, but not because we are a branch of Pizza Parco. We use red cheddar cheese that is the most important ingredient in tacos and taco rice. We use a cheese that tastes a little stronger that the cheese most other taco and taco rice shops use. We make the food only after your order.” Kurihara says that he comes to the store around 09:00 every day to prepare everything before opening at 11:00.
Champion Tacos has other foods available in addition to tacos and taco rice. Kurihara says that he used to work in an Italian restaurant in mainland Japan, so the Yomitan Branch serves pasta, too, while the other branch in Ginowan does not.
As for side dishes, the restaurant also has fried nuggets, curly fries, French fries, onion rings, onion soup and corn cream soup. “Curly fries and onion rings are the most popular side orders among our American customers,” Kurihara says.
For dessert, they have sweet potato, salty chinsuko cookies, and pineapple and vanilla ice cream from Blue Seal.
Prices at Champion Tacos are very reasonable. A large taco rice costs ¥600, and ¥350 for a half-size portion. A set of taco rice, one taco, onion rings and French fries is ¥650. Five-piece set of hard-shell tacos is ¥550 as is a set of four soft-shell tacos. And when you order one of those sets, the house throws in one extra taco if you bring his issue or Champion Tacos ad from Japan Update with you.
Pasta dishes range from ¥390 for a plate of bacon pepperoncino to ¥580 for a carbonara.
Everything in the menu is available for a takeout.
The shop also sells their spicy sauce for ¥540 to ¥590 per bottle depending on the spiciness. The prices include the sales tax.
The Yomitan branch of Champion Tacos is open from 11:00 to 21:00 every day except on Tuesdays. The Ginowan branch is open from 11:30 to 21:00 for to go orders only. The store is located next to Pizza Parco.