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Bite into some sushi at "Yoshi Hachi"

By: Kenny Ehman

Date Posted: 1998-08-14

Fish and rice are often the image of Japanese cuisine for many foreigners. Although visitors to Japan are often surprised by the variety of tastes and ingredients used in Japanese cooking, it is true that fish and rice do play an important role in the traditional diet of all Japanese people. One of the most popular and well known dishes both within Japan and outside of the country has to be "sushi". The simple concoction of vinegar flavored rice, neatly shaped together with "wasabi" and sliced raw fish has delighted many food lovers around the world.

If you have not tried sushi, or if you have not yet been to a sushi restaurant, then you should make the effort to do so before you leave Japan. One of the best places to try some of the Japanese delicacy is at "Yoshi Hachi", located in Chatan. The restaurant is owned and run by Yoshio Maekawa, who became a celebrity in the California and New Orleans area, while working for 12 years in the United States. He introduced sushi to many Americans for the first time, including a list of celebrities. Prior to going to America, he spent much time in mainland Japan learning his skill. Since his return to Okinawa, he has appeared in many television shows and magazines, and his "Yoshi Hachi' restaurant is known throughout Okinawa.

The ingredients and recipe to making sushi may look very simple, but mastering the art is very difficult. "Anyone can learn to make the correct shape of sushi, but recognizing the tastes of your customers takes time," said Maekawa. "It's the details that are important. The taste of the rice, the amount of "wasabi", and the types of fish you use are very important. You need to know the things your customers like to keep them coming back."

Maekawa's approach to his business has earned him a popular name among American entertainers. The walls of his restaurant are adorned with photographs of himself together with many athletes, singers and movie stars. He seems to have met everyone in Hollywood. Stevie Wonder, Peter Falk, Robert Wagner, Danny Glover, Ken Norton, Tom Watson, and Arnold Palmer are just some of the celebrities that have their own space on his walls. Recently, the group "The Ventures" visited their friend Maekawa during their stay on Okinawa for a concert. People from Naha to Nago have come to eat at "Yoshi Hachi". The entrepreneur also volunteers a few times a year to provide free sushi for handicapped people at his restaurant.

You can find a wide variety of sushi on the menu, with everything from popular tuna for 350 to the "cucumber roll' for 250. Other types of sushi include yellow tail 350, shrimp 350, squid 300, caviar 450, and salmon for 350. Maekawa suggests the California roll, which is made with avocado for 600. You can also order combination platters, which range in price from 1250 to 1700. If you find that sushi just does not suit your taste "Yoshi Hachi" has a huge list of other dishes and appetizers. Fried tofu is available for 350, fried chicken wings are 370, and fried yakitori is 350. You can also try the ceviche for 800 or the teriyaki shark for 500. Dinners can be ordered from 900 to 1800. There is also plenty of beer, wine, sake, and soft drinks available.

Maekawa stressed the point that there is something on the menu for everyone. Sushi lovers will rejoice, and first timers can enjoy being adventurous. He also requests that you get there at around 5 pm, since it gets crowded very quickly. Reservations for groups can be made by calling 936-2359.

To get there turn left out of Gate 1. Head south on Highway 58, and turn left again on Kokutai road, which runs around Kadena Air Base. You will come to a green pedestrian overpass. Turn right at this traffic light and "Yoshi Hachi will be located on your right after passing a gas station on your left. "Yoshi Hachi" is closed on Tuesdays.

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