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"Early American" atmosphere and great food at "Mary Lou" means fun!

By: Kenny Ehman

Date Posted: 1998-05-16

Looking for a taste of America? Are you a seafood lover, or does the sight of tender barbecued spare ribs make your mouth water? Well, there's a new guy in town, and he's bringing with him some great food and an American atmosphere for everyone to enjoy. Kenwa Kamimoto's "Mary Lou" restaurant just opened April 27 in the newly developed entertainment area of Hamby, next to the 7 Plex Movie Theater. It is actually the second Mary Lou to open here on Okinawa under the direction of Kamimoto. The original Mary Lou is located in Naha, with an American "western" theme, and is still serving up plenty of great food to lovers of the "old west". The new Mary Lou will have an "Early American" theme, with plenty of "old west" memorabilia, as well as some other typically American items. "When I was a kid, I remember going to the A-sign restaurants here on Okinawa. They always had live music, good food, and lots of drinks. They gradually started to disappear, so I thought it would be nice to bring back that same fun atmosphere," explained Kamimoto about Mary Lou's theme.

The first thing you will notice when you walk inside is the huge size of the dining area. The restaurant can seat up to 200 people, with still plenty of room left for comfort. A stage at the far end provides some great live entertainment and dancing, while you drink and feast on many different types of food. Huge half moon booth seats line the walls near the stage, and regular dining tables are in the center. There is also a terrace for those who enjoy outdoor dining or a nice sunset view with some early cocktails. All of the furniture has been imported from the United States to try and stay as close to an American atmosphere as possible.

The menu of Mary Lou is tailored after a Japanese style pub, but with much more exceptional taste, and good size portions. The orders are not actual meals, but are made to be enjoyed by a few people while drinking. You can choose from a variety of seafood, meat, pasta, and other types of cuisine. Local favorites include the Santa Monica Cocktail ¥880, boiled sausages ¥580, salad spaghetti ¥780, and spare ribs ¥1150. We sampled some of the above, and also the chop steak ¥1480, marinated salmon ¥780, and the pizza omelet ¥680. Everything was extremely delicious. The chopped steak, served with sautéed peppers and onion in a tangy steak sauce, had plenty of tender, cube size chunks of beef. The marinated salmon was also excellent. The Santa Monica Cocktail was an assortment of seafood served in a tomato base sauce that is served cold, and will delight even non-seafood lovers. All of the food is cooked by expert chefs, and plenty of herbs and spices are used to bring out flavor. Soft drinks are available for ¥350, beer costs ¥500, and cocktails can be had for ¥700. Wine and whisky are also listed on the menu. If a complete dinner is more your fancy, Mary Lou also offers monthly dinner specials that average about ¥2,200 for adults and ¥1,200 for kids. "I guarantee you are not going to eat anything that is bad. Everything here is delicious," mentioned Kamimoto. The menu has also been translated into English, which makes ordering easy, and Mary Lou accepts dollars for your convenience.

The food is definitely very good, but Mary Lou's other attraction is its very fun atmosphere. Kamimoto encourages anyone to dance if they would like to, and you will find the owner himself out on the floor occasionally. "This is a place for everyone to come and have fun," he said. There is even a "kid's room" that houses some video games and toys. "Kids can play, while the parents enjoy some dining and dancing," explained Kamimoto. The live music helps to get everyone relaxed, and Mary Lou will host different bands throughout the week, featuring many different styles of music. "Each area of the restaurant offers a different type of atmosphere. There are the booths, which offer more privacy for couples, we have tables for large groups, customers that want to dance can sit up front, we have tables near the "kid's room" for families, and we have the more quiet outdoor terrace," said Kamimoto.

Mary Lou's location also makes dining there very convenient. There are many other things to do in the area, and there is plenty of parking. It is the perfect place to have something to eat and drink after a movie, or a day of shopping. Mary Lou also provides a nice atmosphere for a date with someone special, or for a fun get together with some friends. Mary Lou is open everyday from 5 p.m. until 1 am, with last orders stopping at 12:30 am. You can also take advantage of the 10% discount coupon printed inside the Japan Update.

Kamimoto is still looking for new bands to play at Mary Lou, and invites any bands who are interested to audition.

For more information, or for reservations, please call 936-0704.

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