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Chikyuu Shokudou Introduces Concept of “Paradise” Cuisine

By: “Grand Chef” Keizo Nakasone

Date Posted: 2000-03-25

"Far away in the horizon, above and beyond these waters, a mystical island of paradise exists..." Thus begins the story of an island called Nirai Kanai, parallel to the western concept of “heaven.” Interestingly, Okinawa’s traditional image of the place known as “paradise” is not that of an abode far above the clouds with streets paved in gold, but instead a dwelling in the horizon as an island much like Okinawa itself.

Sakae Odo, manager and main chef of Chikyuu Shokudou Nirai Cuisine, envisioned a dining spot that reflected the peaceful spirit of Okinawa much like the one found in the age-old folk tale. Though born and raised on Okinawa, he is a traveler by heart. The experience as a chef in Japanese cuisine, and the insights about culture he has collected through his travels, inspired him to inaugurate this unique restaurant located behind 7-Plex (second floor of the white building next to Americaya in downtown Chatan).

The food there is best described as “third culture.” Each dish is an original fusion of Asian tastes created by Mr.Odo himself. With fresh products, familiar to the Okinawan soil, he has balanced both taste and color to create entrees of unprecedented compositions. There are examples such as Tuna Sashimi with Chinese garlic bread, an appetizer with chopped Tuna Sashimi mixed with nuts and a soy-based sauce, sprinkled with yellow flower petals and topped with green grape-like seaweed.

Popular entrees include “Pork Kimchi Donburi,” a combination of specially prepared pork with kimchi-based vegetables placed on top of rice.

The restaurant’s wide selection of dishes and cocktails can be overwhelming at first look, so the daily specials and the lunchtime meal sets may be a wise choice for first-time customers. The business hours are divided into three menu transitions. Chikyuu Shokudou opens at 11:30 a.m. with a lunchtime menu, comprised of several pre-arranged meals, and lasts until 2:30 p.m.

4:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. is for teatime, and the menu consists of several desserts, snacks and beverages. The dinner menu has a selection consisting of single dishes as well as dinner courses. This is available from 5:00 p.m. till 10:30 p.m. for dinner courses and 11:30 p.m. for the single orders. Though the drinks are relatively pricey (¥350-¥800), the lunchtime meals, which come with a drink and dessert, range from a decent ¥600 to ¥1,380. The dinner courses range from ¥700 to ¥3,500.

The wooden settings and the open balcony create a serene and spacious atmosphere. The service was designed to cater many types of customers. Couples are often seated at a romantic balcony table with a view of the ocean and the streets of Mihama. The floor and bathrooms are handicap friendly and larger tables are available for families and group customers. Though the staff is not bilingual, menus are available for English-speaking customers. It is advised to approach this dining experience with little emphasis on quantity, and more on the expectation of quality Asian flavors. The restaurant is open all week (with 2 days off on New Years). For more information, call (098) 982-7770 (Japanese-speaking only).

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