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rat & sheep in Urasoe City – taste Okinawan soul food, Hiijaa (goat), at a former military housing unit
post : 2016.10.20 18:00
Minatogawa, Urasoe City is as popular a place as Oyama, Ginowan City for new fashions and nice restaurants. The Stateside Town was originally made for military people. The town itself has been totally renovated into a fashionable area with the feel of the old days.
There are many of nice and unique coffee shops and restaurants in the Stateside Town area. Today, I would like to introduce one of the most popular of these places; “rat & sheep,” specializes in cuisine made from goat meat and is a great place goat meat beginners. The restaurant is always filled with locals.
When I describe this restaurant in a nutshell, I would call it a ‘casual but elegant goat meat restaurant.’ Their best items are Pinza Hamburger Steak and Pinza Curry and Rice. Pinza means goat in the Miyako island dialect. The goat meat is well prepared and cooked perfectly for both goat beginners and veterans to enjoy.
“I like to introduce people to try goat meat here,” said Jun Taira. In fact, many first-timers including kids enjoy the taste of his goat meat cuisine. Usually goat dishes have very distinctive flavor that can get in the way of a good appetite. Dishes served here gave me a remarkable image change with regard to goat dishes. I appreciated the mildness and beauty of goat meat.
“The goats raised near the ocean taste good,” said Jun. “Because they eat vegetables with full of minerals and inhale sea breeze. If you have already tried goat soup or goat sashimi, you may have been struck by the strong flavor and the texture which might turn you away. Jun does a job of making the intensity of the meat reflect the charm of goat.
“Okinawan goats are not fat, but interestingly the meat has more fat content than the other goats,” Jun said. “I was thinking to specialize in something like lamb chops, but the cost was higher than I wanted” Jun opened this restaurant to provide goat meat meals for reasonable prices so locals could stop by without hesitation. He came up with the popular menu for everyone with goat curry and hamburger steak being the featured products.
The next thing he had to consider was a ground goat meat recipe. After several tries mixing the goat with other kinds of ground meat, he finally found the best combination in pork.
In addition to meat, Jun adds only onions, salt and pepper. Keeping the ingredients to a minimum is the trick to bringing out the best character of goat meat. His keema curry sauce is made by simmering the meat with tomatoes, coriander, cumin and garam masala for 4-5 hours. A very tasty curry was brought to my table and I could taste the depth of his preparation.
Why does Jun have such a passion for goat cuisine? “Goat meals of the staples which best represents the Okinawan food culture,” he answered sincerely. “After the war, our parents’ generation could survive thanks to this nutritious food.” When he was a teenager, people raised goats to prepare for celebrations. At the same time they did not forget to appreciate the food provided by nature. “I would say goats were a symbol of community back then,” he said.
rat & sheep started with the concept of enjoying goat cuisines casually with a hope of inspiring people to try traditional goat meals like soup or sashimi in the future. They used to open only in the evening for dinner and drinks but are now open for lunch and dinner.
“We have lots of sunlight from the large windows and the yard is pretty spacious so we can hold art events,” said Jun. Since he is also a professional photographer, is hoping to interact with lot of people in Okinawa.
The shop can connect food with art. <
In addition to the two goat meals, they also have Green Curry with Island Vegetables. Yamashiro tea from Jun’s hometown of Ishikawa City is served as well as original lemonade and various other drinks including alcohol. Awamori from the central areas and various organic wines are also available.
For dessert, the Cream Sandwich Scone is a great choice. Masumi bakes the breads and scones. These days, Okinawa prefecture is paying attention to goat as a local popular item. Have a new Okinawan taste experience here!
Address: 2-13-9 Minatogawa, Urasoe City, Okinawa
Hours: 10:30–17:00 (Mon–Sat); 19:00–24:00 (Fri-Sat)
Closed: Sunday, Monday if Sunday is a holiday
Okinawa CLIP photo writer: Noriya Fukuda