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Toraji izakaya caters to foreigners

Date Posted: 2007-10-18

The restaurant is a typical Izakaya, a laid back place to eat and drink, but South Island Kitchen Toraji in Chatan is different. “I know there are a lot of restaurants serving Japanese food and Awamori,” says Azama, “but it’s not easy to find one with charming elements for foreigners.” He wants foreigners to experience the best of Okinawa, and does that with tasty treats ranging from California Rolls and Traji Seafood Salad with mustard sauce, and Garlic French Fries.

Owner Saiji Azama is reputedly “one of the most amazing chefs in Okinawa. He has the craftsman’s spirit, and doesn’t speak a lot. He’s a shy person,” according to those who know him.

That doesn’t stop Azama from turning out eye catching, tantalizing dishes, always with an eye toward “freshness and reasonable prices.” Azama opened South Island Kitchen Toraji in February, and has the philosophy “you can’t enjoy any place without good food.” He recommends the California Rolls, for starters, at only ¥680 per order.

Also priced at ¥680 is the Toraji Seafood Salad. Fried chicken tempura with a zesty Korean sauce is ¥650, and tuna-avocado carpacchio, Japanese style, for ¥680. There’s also sashimi, three different varieties dished up for ¥800. Foods are prepared in front of customers in a spacious, open kitchen.

South Island Kitchen Toraji has a full English menu, and a hospitable staff, who make you feel like they’ve been your friend for years. Comfortable seating is available in booths, and at the bar. Azama proudly notes they are open 365 days a year, “ready to have you visit and taste our food.”

The restaurant is located on Route 23 near Kadena Air Base. Traveling Route 58 toward Kadena, turn onto Route 23 headed to Gate 5. Pass CoCo Curry restaurant on the right side, and look for Toraji just past the 1st traffic light, also on the right side. It’s marked by a big yellow sign "とらじ". South Island Kitchen Toraji is open daily 6 p.m. to 2 a.m., and has plenty of free parking. Yen and VISA, MasterCard, DC and Nicos credit cards are accepted.

Japan Update readers are also in for a special treat. Bring with your the advertisement with coupon from this week’s paper, and get a FREE plate of tuna - avocado salad for your dinner group.

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