Sunday 1 October 2017

Okinawan gourmet - Charlie's tacos in Naha (taco rice)

I recently had an opportunity to go to Okinawa (the southernmost islands of the Japanese archipelago) with my friend Tetsuya.  Now, Tetsuya is from Okinawa and has been there many times as well as spending the first 6 years of his life there.  Me, however, it was my first time and when the decision was made to go, I started researching where I wanted to go and what I wanted to do.  As fate would have it, it was so hot and humid while we were there that I didn't get to do half the things I wanted to do.  I am a much better winter person than I am a summer person even though I come from a very hot area with temperatures sometimes over 40 degrees celsius in summer.  

Okinawa has a very different culture to mainland Japan having only been part of Japan for a tiny part of its history.  It also has a very different food culture to Japan.  For example, take a look at the photo below......

As you can see, every part of the pig is eaten.  Now in Tokyo I have not yet seen anyone sitting down to a meal of pigs face.  Waste not, want not!

A little more to my liking is the Okinawan invented quasi Mexican dish, taco rice.  Now I'm sure you can all imagine what this is.  Take a taco, empty the contents onto rice and (SHAZAM!!) taco rice.  Now, it may not sound like much, but, in my humble opinion, much more appealing than pigs face.  So I started doing research about what taco rice restaurant to visit while in Naha and one name kept coming up, Charlie's tacos.

From what I can gather, Charlie's tacos is an institution in Okinawa and has been running at it's original location since 1956.  Sprawled across his original shop window is "Mexican born, Okinawan raised".  So the decision was made we were going to Charlie's.

The Charlie's that we visited is on Kokusai Dori (International street).  Located on the second floor (first floor if you are Australian) of a building on the south end of Kokusai Dori about 150m along the street from A&W burger.

Stepping inside, the decor was a little classic, kind of retro but homely.

Sorry to the lovely lady taking a huge bite of her taco......

The menu is on the table

and you go up to the cash register when you are ready to order.

Before too long, the food came out.  Tetsuya ordered a taco with onion rings

and I went all out and got a taco with taco rice!

Both of us agreed that the taco was a little dry (maybe I should have used the sauce) but the real winner was the taco rice!  Delicious, not so spicy (there are bottles of chili sauce around that you can use to amp up the spice levels) and filling!

Next time you are in Okinawa, the main island, check out Charlie's tacos for some great taco rice!

Thanks again for reading.  Leave a message below if you have been to Charlie's.  What was it like for you?

See you next time.

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