I’m a very picky eater. Correction, a very picky diner. If the hoards of food bloggers have written about it, I’m not interested. Because let’s face it – it’s the same old stuff. Butter, flour, cream, and then some agar and tapioca maltodextrin if it’s a ‘modern’ place. Hypocritical, I know. But you work in restaurant, eating out loses its magic. In fact, I come home bored or disappointed half the time.
Ethnic food, however, is a whole new subject.
Meet OC Weekly’s Best Japanese Restaurant of 2011 – Habuya Okinawa Dining. We love it. And so should you. No frills, no dubstep music, no shimmery chandeliers, and you’ll never sit next to someone waxing poetic about the 102 ways to eat bacon. Just a wine and beer license, small town charm, and a sweet, chatty Mama-san.
Start your meal with a bottle of Orion, Okinawa’s own little lager.
They’ll match you with some house-made pickles that are tinged with bonito flakes. Okinawa food consists of these three things: bonito flakes, eggs, pork. #truestory
A bowl of mozuku, a type of seaweed that only grows in the warm waters of Okinawa. It’s served in a cold bowl of sweet vinegar soup. (3.50)
Paripari Menta Cheese Ageh. I think this was the happy hour size. Normally though, 5 bucks. Skip and make room for other endemic dishes.
Like this. Rafuteh, or Okinawan kakuni/Thit Kho/Dong Po. Braised pork belly in dashi, mirin, brown sugar, soy sauce. So good. 5 bucks? I don’t know.
Beni-Imo fries or Purple Yam Stick. Okinawan purple potatoes. These guys are REALLY purple. And sweet. Pictured happy hour sized, normally $4.50.
Make sure to take a break from eating and sip on some Awamori, Okinawan grain liquor. We like the Shimauta – it comes in a Ryuukyu glass tumbler, which really makes it awesome and super islandy.
Goya Champloo ($6). Bittermelon, eggs, bean sprouts, bonito flakes. So simple and so good, with just the right amount of bitterness.
Suh-chiki, Okinawan Salted Pork Slices (6.50). Torched, served with lettuce and ponzu sauce. OMGamazing! Husband had to get another order for himself…
Skip dessert. Instead, leave a little bit of room and end your meal with some Okinawan soba. This is the Sohki Soba (8.50). Clean bonito broth, braised pork, fish cakes, pickled ginger, extra chewy noodles, ooohlololololo…
Husband had the Habuya Soba (7.50), which comes with the cured Suh-chiki pork. He just couldn’t get enough of it, no?
Make sure to douse it in house made Koh Reh Gu Su hot sauce.
Don’t waste your time and money at boring old Hondaya. Just go here!