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Little getaway with cup of tea and water pipe

By: David Knickerbocker

Date Posted: 2001-11-15

If you're looking for a new and refreshing hangout for you and your friends, consider giving Shirin Tea and Gift Shop a visit. Annexed to the bar Sauce, this small escape hardly fits the image of your everyday teahouse. I highly recommend their Caspian tea. The business also serves Iranian tea and high quality imported tobacco, which you can smoke through an authentic Iranian water pipe. This place could best be described as a getaway, an establishment where you can think by yourself or have an intimate conversation with a friend or two.

So, what is it exactly that makes Shirin such a special place? It is by far the owner. Sharo Aienpour came to Okinawa after living in mainland Japan for a few years. He grew up in Iran and is proud of his heritage.

He'll tell you all about it if you give him the chance, or you can read about his home country in one of several hardback books lining the bar counter. Sharo is as friendly, as genuine, as intellectually stimulating of a person as you could ever meet, but he's also a humble philosopher who will encourage you to think in new directions.

Over the length of our visit, conversation drifted from business to childhood, to Okinawa, to war, to fine tobacco, to religion, to basketball, and to how all of the above related in one way or another. "A good basketball player should be able to play under any circumstances," I overheard him say to an athletic friend. "It doesn't matter what shoes you wear," he adds, noting that he and others like him didn't have the latest pair of Nike shoes while growing up. They made the most of what was available.

While visiting, I had the chance to smoke some of the finest, cleanest tobacco I have ever had through the authentic Iranian water pipe. Absent of any chemical additives, the smoke hardly felt as it went down and immediately dissipated, and became one with the air again, almost like steam, as I exhaled. Unlike standard cigarettes, which fill a room with gray, smoky stench, this tobacco is clean, leaving only a hint of fruity taste on your lips.

Sharo recently added several Iranian dishes to his menu including Horesh Alau, a meal consisting of fish pie baked with walnut, turmeric, and other Persian herbs. This plate sells for $13 or 1,300 and includes a drink. Olivie is another meal being served similar to potato salad. It includes chicken or turkey meat and is served with pita bread. Olivie costs 600 by itself or 800 with one drink. For as little as 700, you can order the pasta of the day, for 900 you can add a drink to the meal, and for 1,100 you get the pasta, a drink of choice, and a choice between carrot, chocolate, or cheese cake.

If you are considering having a private party, Shirin has three special party plans available. For 2,500 per person, a special meal will be made for you and your friends, for 3,000 you get the meal and all the tea you wish to drink, and for 3,500 per person you get the meal, the drinks, and can relax afterwards smoking a water pipe with a few of your friends.

Shirin also recently added a few new tobaccos to their menu including Pist, lemon, Africa, watermelon, orange, mellon, and grape, and they sell several teas including Arabian, Caspian, Shirin Original, bahar, pune, shir, tok, raya, and katmi.

If you are looking for a pleasant new escape Shirin Tea and Gift Shop might just be your cup of tea.

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