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Enjoy a Hong Kong experience - "Yamucha" at Alivila Resort

By: Kenny Ehman

Date Posted: 1998-11-06

The chatter of conversation, the clang of a tea pot being set down, and the aroma of delicacies such as shrimp and crab being steamed. Waiters are busy rushing back and forth refilling the empty tea pots and bringing out more food. Patron's bellies get full, and laughter along with politics is shared at the table. In Hong Kong this would be a normal scene at any one of the many "Yamucha" (Dim Sum) restaurants that dot the famous city. But, the scene being described is not Hong Kong. It is happening daily, right here on Okinawa.

For homesick expats of both Hong Kong and Taiwan, and for lovers of Cantonese style food, "Yamucha" can be enjoyed every day at the Alivila Hotel. The luxury resort presents an all-you-can-eat "Yamucha" buffet from 11:30 am until 2:00 pm on weekdays, and 11 am until 3 pm on weekends and holidays. The cost is just 2310, which includes all tax and service charges. For first timers of "Yamucha" the experience is well worth the money. And, there is a special price for kids, which helps to make it affordable for families. Children aged from 3 years to six years of age are charged 924, while elementary school students are charged 1732.

Traditionally, "Yamucha" is more of a social institute than it is a meal. In Hong Kong, starting at late morning, family and friends begin to gather at their favorite "Yamucha" restaurant. As in the meaning of the word, "oolong" tea is ordered and sipped slowly over a good conversation. The other important part of "Yamucha" is the many small dishes of steamed food that can be ordered. The most common include shrimp and crab rolled into a very soft, almost translucent shell that has the consistency of a type of pasta. There are no fancy herbs or spices, only the main ingredients with a little salt and pepper added. The small dishes are meant to be eaten slowly, with conversation taking a front seat to everything else.

Alivila Hotel's "Yamucha" restaurant brings you all the atmosphere and great tastes of Cantonese cuisine plus more. As soon as you are seated a cart is brought to your table, upon where a friendly waiter starts placing mini-bamboo food containers filled with delicious side orders on your table. There are many traditional tastes, along with some very tasty original dishes. Besides the small "dumpling" style dishes, you can also sample pork, beef, and chicken prepared in an array of different cooking methods. The bamboo containers are served to give you a variety of different tastes, which come hot off of the steam-cart. You can also select only your favorite dishes if you prefer. The idea is to eat slow, and enjoy your food. Plenty of oolong tea is served, which is said to help digest many of the richer foods. As you sit and enjoy the experience, you will also be treated to a fabulous view of the East China Sea.

The preparation for "Yamucha" is a very tedious and labor intensive process. Each one of the mini flour-based shells is rolled to the perfect consistency, and then filled individually by hand before it goes into the steamer.

All of this, plus the many other cooked dishes, is overseen by head chef Junichi Tamanaha, who has spent most of his career working with Chinese style food. Born in Okinawa, he has traveled to both Taiwan and Hong Kong for learning the finer points of Chinese cuisine. "Many Taiwanese people come here to eat, and also many Americans with their families. I want everyone to have fun, while they enjoy their food," said Tamanaha.

The Alivila Hotel is located in Yomitan, between Tori Station and Cape Zampa. To get there, turn off of Highway 58 on to Route 6. Go passed Tori Station, and look for Kanehide supermarket on your left. Stay to your left at the traffic light, and then make another left turn at the Alivila Hotel sign. The road will then curve around and follow the coastline. You will see Alivila Hotel on your left. For more information or for reservations, please call 982-9111. Reservations are advised on weekends and Japanese holidays.

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