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“Small but Tasty” Restaurants Set New Trend on Island

By: “Grand Chef” Keizo Nakasone

Date Posted: 2000-01-15

In many cities and towns, some eateries immediately attract diners by the strength of the aroma coming from their kitchens. “Fancy” may not be the right word to describe such restaurants, yet they have something nice and warm about them that franchise restaurants would never be able to offer.

This week, we introduce a couple of those small-but-goody restaurants that serve home cooked foods , entrenched in the chef’s original roots and souls.

American Pizzaman

His mother is a typical Italian woman and his father an experienced restaurant chef. He remembers well the good Pizza that his mother cooked for his family as he grew up. Steve Bearkheimer, our subject, was so disappointed in the fact that he could not find the same kind of Pizza in Okinawa. His search for good Pizza over 17 years in Okinawa culminated in his own original creation, based on the recipe which was passed on to him by his mother. Now he is a major challenge on the Okinawa Pizza market.

After experiencing twists and turns during his food vendor days, Bearkheimer opened his own Pizza eatery called “American Pizzaman” in Gushikawa City last September. Well, “eatery ” might not even be the appropriate word to describe it, since he sells Pizza from a truck(!)

“Many people look at the bus and just pass by. But, those who try it once come back most of the time.”

These words from the Gushikawa Pizzaman can be confirmed by the increasing figures of his monthly sales, which have practically doubled within the last three months. The secret of this Marine retiree’s Pizza seems to lie in its quality and the large portions. His Pizza is made from strictly selected ingredients and original Pizza sauce. To serve the best, ground beef and Italian Sausage are homemade and other ingredients such as Pepperoni and Cheese are brought from America. Since he believes that the sauce determines the taste of Pizza, he puts a lot of time and effort into it often spending half of a day on the sauce alone.

The portions are also another factor that bring recognition for the American Pizzaman. No matter the kind of toppings chosen, his Pizza always has a diameter of 35 centimeters and 1 kilogram of weight for a whole.

American Pizzaman opens six days a week from 5:00 p.m. to midnight (closed on Tuesdays). To order, call 974-0604.

Directions: From Camp Courtney Main Gate, take Route 330 and head for Agena Crossroads. At the crossroads, take a left (you’ll see the General Gas Station on your left) and enter Route 3. Go straight about three kilometers; after passing San-A shopping store, you’ll see “The Apple Dentist” on your left. Enter the narrow street that goes to right across from the dentist. You’ll see the white “American Pizzaman” truck on your left.

Pastele Brazil

In the center of the school district in Okinawa City, there’s a small eatery that serves original Brazilian tastes of home. Having come from Brazil, which is located 180 degrees on the other side of the world from Japan 9 years ago, Jose and Angelica Yakabi opened “Pastele Brazil” about a year ago. At the eatery, a variety of Brazilian snacks are offered.

Everyday, as soon as it opens at two o’clock, the eatery becomes busy with customers - mostly students from nearby schools, and the housewives in the neighborhood - coming in for the afternoon snacks. Surrounded by three schools - Chatan High School, Yamauchi Junior High School, and Kyuyou High School - 85% of their customers are students; the place has become a great hangout for students.

The reason of its popularity among the school boys and girls is quite easy to determine. The eatery has something to offer that perfectly fits the students’ needs: good and cheap foods. All items are made from scratch on the premises by Jose Yakabi, who was once a chef in Brazil. As such, customers can expect hot and fresh food. Besides the authentic tastes, the reasonable prices are also an advantage, especially for students whose budgets are very limited. Everything served there is less than ¥100. Meat Pie, Apple Pie, Cheese Pie, Churro are ¥50 and Potato Pie and Pizza are ¥100 a piece.

According to the eatery’s husband-and-wife team, the most popular item there is the Brazilian dessert with vanilla and chocolate cream called “Churro.” Foodstuffs from “Pastele Brazil” are also available at the Hamby Night Market on Saturdays and Sundays.

The operation hours are 2:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. from Tuesday through Friday.

Directions: From Gate 5, go straight until you reach the second traffic light; you’ll see Kyuyou High School in front of you. From there, make a right and go straight again. You’ll see the yellow and green building next to a Police box on your right; that’s Pastele Brazil.

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