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Ron Izakaya is a blend of the orient

By: David Knickerbocker

Date Posted: 2002-03-08

In Japan an izakaya is a restaurant-style bar where people of all ages will often come to have a drink with their peers and co-workers. Ron Izakaya, in Mihama right off Route 58, is a unique, Chinese-style izakaya. The character for Ron is a Chinese kanji meaning “dragon.” The restaurant owners decided to name the restaurant after this creature in hopes that their izakaya would soar like a dragon.

They first opened their doors on Valentine’s Day 2001 and have been successful ever since. Though the menus are all in Japanese, the izakaya has attracted American and foreign visitors who drop by while wandering the streets of Mihama. One staff member speaks English fairly well, and even though everything is written in Japanese, it is not too difficult to order. The restaurant serves many popular dishes including ebi-no-chiri-sosu (shrimp with chili sauce, ¥780), kun-po-chitin (chicken with green onions, ¥680), paru-paru-harumaki (spring rolls, ¥280), ebi-gyoza (shrimp dumplings, ¥480) and shoronpo (Chinese soup with meat dumplings, ¥420). I’ve transliterated all the Japanese entries into English so that after this quick vocabulary lesson you will know what to say when you are ready to order your meal at Ron.

Ron also serves a variety of chahan (fried rice) dishes including kimuchi, umeboshi (salty pickled plum), ebi (shrimp), chicken and cha-shyu (pork). When you order, say, “Kimuchi chahan onegaishimasu”; you can replace the word “kimuchi” with chicken, ebi or anything else. Kimuchi and ebi chahan cost ¥700, while the other run ¥650. Ron also serves a variety of yakisoba (fried noodles), including chu-ka yakisoba (Chinese style, ¥650) and kata yakisoba (fried vegetables, ¥700). Another favorite is tan-tan-men, sesame soup with ground pork. This dish costs ¥650.

This izakaya has many of the same types of beer and awamori (Okinawan liquor) as most other izakayas around the island, but it also has Chinese liquor called raochu, which is very tasty. My translator for the night told me that raochu tastes a bit like soy sauce, so I was slightly turned off by the idea of trying it. The soy-sauce taste is vaguely there, but raochu has an aftertaste slightly like brown sugar, and soon after, the drink warms you from the inside. The employees at Ron claim that this is the only place on Okinawa where you can try raochu.

Ron also serves Orion, Kirin and Asahi beers for ¥430 to ¥500, wine for ¥2,300 to ¥4,500 per bottle and a variety of other drinks. If awamori is more to your liking, Ron has a variety for you to sample including Chatan-choro (awamori from Chatan aged for 13 years), urasato and kikunotsuyu. Bottles of awamori can be purchased for ¥3,000, or you can order by the flask for ¥700 to ¥900.

Our meal at Izakaya Ron was delicious. Every plate was brought out steaming hot and full of flavor. The house specialty, shoronpo, was positively the best. The staff was very friendly, the place was clean and comfortable, and the food was cooked to perfection. All in all, if you haven’t been to Ron yet, you should check it out. Whether you are dropping by for a meal or a drink, you won’t be disappointed. Ron is open Tuesday through Sunday from 5:00 p.m. to 1:00 a.m.

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