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Kuimonya Wakamusha is unique blend of mainland and Okinawan tastes

By: David Knickerbocker

Date Posted: 2002-08-01

For those of you with cars and a bit of knowledge on the streets of Naha, Kuimonya Wakamusha is a special izakaya restaurant you'll surely enjoy. Located down south near the Kumoji intersection close to Palette Kumoji (Ryubo), Kuimonya serves some of the best seafood and Japanese fare on island. The restaurant itself is fairly small and looks like most typical izakayas, but owners Akira and Mitsuo make this restaurant stand out above the rest. Akira was raised in Okinawa but went to Osaka to become a chef at a very well known hotel. He uses only the freshest ingredients, and everything is cooked to perfection. Mitsuo serves as the waiter making sure everything is clean and all guests are comfortable. Together, the two provide a truly friendly and unique atmosphere. Where most izakayas can be a bit of a zoo with employees shouting orders back and forth, and most of the staff are friendly only because it is their duty, Akira and Mitsuo exude genuinely friendly attitude and make sure everything is just right.

Native English speakers with little Japanese knowledge may have a difficult time ordering at the restaurant as all menu items are in Japanese only and the two owners don't speak English, but if you can remember a few of the dishes I mention, you'll surely get a good meal out of your visit. Everything is delicious no matter how odd it may look to uninitiated, it sometimes just may take a bit courage.

I started my meal with the house salad, called Wakamusha salad (650), which consisted of daikon, goya, tofu, and other vegetables. I also ordered gyuniku sashimi, or raw beef (550), jyagaimo to cheese no minoage, deliciously deep fried potato and cheese (500), burikama, which is a very tender fish dish of a yellowtail head and neck and was surprisingly good (750), and kimuchi, or spicy cabbage (350), which was spicier than usual. Another recommended dish is harumaki, a truly delicious plate of spring rolls (580). As far as the food is concerned, this is one of the best izakayas I've been to. Overall, dishes are a little pricier than at most chain izakayas, but if you come with a group of two or three people, you can truly share quite a feast of a variety of dishes. The restaurant offers many daily fish specials based on what is available in the market, so if you'd like to find out what the special of the day is, try this phrase: kyo no osusume wa nandesuka, which means, "What is today's recommendation?" Whatever you order, it's sure to be outstanding!

The two main assets of the restaurant are the quality and taste of their food and the genuinely friendly atmosphere. When it comes to Japanese pubs, this is one of the most special I have been to and I'll surely return from time to time. The atmosphere is very comfortable. What sets the meals here apart from similar dishes offered in most chain restaurants, is the cooking style of Akira that is different. Most izakayas prepare either Okinawan or Japanese food, but Kuimonya Wakamusha's chef makes quite a mix of mainland Japanese and Okinawan flavors.

Kuimonya Wakamusha is fairly easy to find if you have a little bit of knowledge of the streets of Naha. Head south to the Kumoji intersection. At the intersection, Ryubo will be a ways down the road on your left side. Turn right and then left at the next street and you'll be right beside the izakaya that is located on the second floor. Parking is available at one of the area's pay parking areas within a couple of minute's walk to the restaurant. Kuimonya is open from 5:30 p.m. to 1 a.m. everyday except Sundays and national holidays, and the last order is at midnight.

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