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Hana Lamp is Yakiniku beef paradise

By: David Knickerbocker

Date Posted: 2001-10-13

If you haven't yet tried yakiniku, you have really missed out on some exceptionally good food. When I'm really hungry, I don't want fast food. I don't want vegetables. Give me beef! At all-you-can-eat yakiniku restaurant, you can feast on plates and plates of beef -- or chicken, duck, or whatever you want, really -- to your heart's content. An outing to one of Okinawa's many yakiniku restaurants can be a fun and delicious experience you will always remember, and it won't be long before it's time for another trip to your favorite yakiniku restaurant once you've tried it the first time.

One of my favorite yakiniku restaurants is called Hana Lamp, with hana meaning flower in Japanese. For 2,800, you and a friend can get a meal for two consisting of assorted types of beef including tongue, roast, kalbi, and harami, which is the region of the cow between the vital organs and the kalbi, very mouth watering tender beef. Beef tongue might sound a little out of the ordinary for some, but if you close your eyes and take a bite, it really just tastes like beef. As a house special, Hana Lamp offers thin long cuts of radish that you put on the fried tongue either before or after cooking it. One bite of this and I was sold. It was truly delicious I was a little intimidated to try beef tongue my first time, as it gives me a nasty mental image, but the thin slices of meat look nothing like tongue when they bring it out neatly prepared on a dish, and it tastes nothing like what I imagined it would. Kimchi, or spicy radish, salad, rice, and soup also come with the two-person meal, or if you have a bigger group, you can order the three-person meal for 3,950 or the four-person meal for 5,500. The kalbi beef and the harami is by far the most tender and most delicious. If beef tongue is a little too extreme for your tastes, the owners will gladly swap the beef tongue for chicken, so you won't get anything that you don't want to eat.

For those who are unfamiliar with yakiniku, it is a meal where raw meat and vegetables are brought to your table, which has an open fire in the center. Rather than having someone else cook your meals in a tucked away kitchen, you get to cook your own meal to your desired preferences. Once the waiters have brought your meats and vegetables to your table, throw as much meat on the grill as you want and feast away. There is one dish of sauce that you dip your meat into after cooking it, and then you eat, but there really are no specified rules you must follow when eating at a yakiniku restaurant. Cooking your own food is half of the fun, as you and a friend can discuss the days happening while watching your own strip of beef or chicken sizzle over hot blazing coals.

If you haven't tried yakiniku, you are missing out! Aside from the many other yakiniku restaurants on Okinawa, there are two Hana Lamp restaurants on island: one in Mihama next to the giant Ferris wheel, and the other in Hamby Town near the seawall. Both are open from 5 p.m. to 1 a.m. The Mihama restaurant is closed on Tuesdays and the Hamby Town restaurant is closed on Thursdays. Be sure to arrive early as their last call is at 12:30 a.m., the perfect time for a big late night snack. For more information about Hana Lamp, call 098-926-1303.

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