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Lobster and Steak Specialties at Samís By-The-Sea

By: Dinner Gong

Date Posted: 2000-12-29

Samís By-The-Sea, one of Okinawaís oldest restaurant chains, has a branch in Oroku, near Nahaís airport. It has been open two years and is popular with travelers waiting for planes or taking southern tours of the island.

It has Samís trademark nautical theme, exotic arts and crafts around the walls, a big cocktail list and an extensive menu. The bar is built in the shape of a boat with highly polished timbers and gleaming brass trimmings. There is also a Hawaiian canoe, slung from the ceiling, which was hand carved from a single log, now a rarity in the islands, says Samís Managing Director Alan Payne. It was blessed by a Hawaiian priest before its journey here and by an Okinawan one after its arrival, he says.

The restaurant has an open plan kitchen and the long hatch is crowned by a beaten bronze boat shape. To complete the on-board atmosphere, waitresses dress in sailor outfits. The high ceiling and sense of space are features that distinguish it from many other Okinawan eateries.

The cocktail menu features Bananaquiri, Tahitian Rum Punch, Samís Sour, Margarita, Navy Grog and Tropical Fruit Punch, among others. Most of the drinks arrive decorated with, glace cherries on cocktail sticks, lemon slices and sprigs of mint. Some include minature parrots or parasols and two of the cups, in the shape of a shisa dog and a tiki god, can be taken home. Cocktail prices are mostly •600-•700, though they range from •450 to •1,250. There is also a selection of beers and wines.

DG tried some items from the special seasonal holiday menu. The •800 Salmon Boat appetizer contained salmon, avocados, onions marinated in olive oil and mustard, served on a chicory leaf. It was light, refreshing and an interesting blend of tastes.

Another appetizer, chosen by DGís companion, was Oyster Rockfeller, at •850, a delicious blend of oyster, garlic, minced spinach, bacon and bread crumbs, broiled in spiced butter and served in a half shell. Samís also has raw oysters for •850, served in half shells too, with two dipping sauces and lemon wedges.

Regular appetizers include the perennial favorite, Escargots A La Samís at •950. These snails are cooked in herbed butter and white wine. They are served in their shells. There is also Shrimp Cocktail, •800, Smoked Salmon at •950, Hot Cheese Tempura, •500 which comes with a pineapple sweet and sour sauce for dipping. There are a variety of other appetizers, containing crab, avocado, duck and tuna.

For the main course DG chose the hearty Fishermanís Cioppino, •2,250. The recipe for this dish comes from San Franciscoís famous Fishermanís Wharf. It is a tasty red stew containing lobster, scallops, mussels fish, clams and comes with garlic bread for dipping.

The mainstay of the Samís By-The-Sea menu is its steaks. These include filet mignon, sirloin, T-bone, tenderloin, rib-eye and hamburger. Prices range from •1,600 to •3,500.

A selection of American lobster dinners is now available, including steamed or baked, thermidor, with filet mignon and the Tahitian. This is chunks of lobster removed from the shell, combined with a crustacean sauce, replaced in the shell and baked. The lobster dinners cost between •4,500 and •5,300.

There is a fine selection of Samís famous combination dinners. These combine various seafoods with filet mignon: lobster, crab, prawns and shrimp. There is also a chicken and steak combination, topped with a cheese sauce. The price range for combinations is •2,450 to •3,700.

If you prefer shellfish on its own there is a selection of lobster, crab, prawn and shrimp dishes. One of these is Singapore Shrimp at •2,150 which has scallops, black beans, oyster sauce and a dash of Chinese wine, on pilaff rice, a favorite at Singaporeís hawker stalls.

The fresh fish menu has sole, pompano, Sea Bass and Mahi Mahi. Garnishes for these dishes include capers, baby clams, tomatoes, white wine, fresh cream, shiquasa (Okinawa Lime) zucchinis, shitake mushrooms and purple yams. They all cost under •2000.

For dessert DG chose a tantalizing combination of sweet ingredients, the Seaside Sundae, •500, a scoop of vanilla ice cream with fresh strawberry sauce and cream, encased in strands of spun sugar or angel hair. It rested on a chocolate shell.

Other dessert possibilities are Flaming Polynesian Bananas, Coconut Cream Pie, Pineapple Haupia (Hawaiian coconut pudding), Assorted CrŤme Brulees, Macadamia Nut Cheesecake, Baked Alaska and a selection of ice creams and sherbets. Prices range from •350 to •600

To round off the meal there is a choice of after dinner drinks, including Irish Coffee, single malt scotches, cognac, cocktails and liqueurs. They range from •500 to •800.

To summarise, Samís By-The-Sea serves filling meals of great variety in an intriguing setting. The Oroku branch by the airport no doubt holds nostalgic memories of last hours spent in Okinawa by many a departing passenger.

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