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French cuisine rules at White House restaurant

Date Posted: 2011-02-04

Former Bistro l'erable of Okinawa City is doing very well these days in its new Ginowan City setting and a new name, turning out a basically all-French cuisine at both lunch and dinner.

Owner-chef Massa Watanable is pleased with the new location, having left the original restaurant location in Okinawa City. He's calling his new restaurant the Okinawa Original White House since the grand opening in late December. "Fresh food ingredients guarantee a good taste", he says, and guarantees that he's still the best food anywhere, noting he's got the super cooking skills, plenty of experience, and a cooking style that refuses to use frozen ingredients.

"Some Okinawa restaurants are very cheap and serve fast food. Some are outright delicious," he says, but asks "Is this a real restaurant?" Watanabe says "a real restaurant is genial, where meals are enjoyed slowly and served in an attractive, eye-pleasing way." He offers a lunch set course that includes an appetizer, soup, fish or meat dish-customers choose from the special menu-cooked to order, a dessert and coffee for only エ1,750 including tax.

It gets even better at dinner, where a エ3,500 set course has guests salivating over the amuse bouche appetizer, soup, fish or meat main course, dessert and coffee. Menus change daily, Watanabe says, because his decisions are based on what he finds at the market each day.

A visit to White House is intended to be a leisurely experience, so owner-chef Watanabe says "please forget to hurry when you come to our restaurant." He's concerned about every detail of the meal, right down to reminding patrons to speak up if they've foods they are allergic to.

Watanabe, whose culinary experience began with training in Japan before moving on to Australia's Sydney Salt Restaurant for advanced studies, found himself going through what he called a life-changing thought, deciding to specialize in western culinary art. The 38-year-old Ibaraki Prefecture native traveled to Singapore, Montreal and France a decade ago, stopped to serve as vice chef in Montreal's Les Caprices de Nicolas French restaurant, then chef at Ariel Restaurant. He returned to Japan, deciding Okinawa was the best place to live as he launched his first restaurant endeavor in September 2009.

What's next for White House? Watanabe's planning to invite musicians to serenade diners with music to enhance the customers' dining experience. The White House is open Tuesday ~ Saturday 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. for lunch, and 6 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. for dinner. There's also a Sunday brunch from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. The restaurant is closed on Mondays.

White House is located in Ginowan City. Travel south on Highway 58 to Ojana, then turn left toward Maehara. The restaurant's on the left, about 200 meters up the hill and across from a pachinko parlor.

There's free parking for six cars in front of the building.


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