- Try beauty soap made with local ingredients at SuiSavon in Shuri, Naha City
- Enjoy a delicious bowl of inamuduchi miso soup at Fukuya in Shuri, established 30 years ago.
“I want this place to be a bridge between tourists and locals” Restaurant “Nmayaa” on Miyako Island
post : 2017.01.16 18:00
Nmayaa is located in the Tomori area about a 20-minute drive from Miyako Airport. Next door is a snorkeling shop called Imugyaa Marine Garden (also called Ingyaa) which has the same owner as the restaurant. Outside tables are available so you can eat in your swimsuit.
Ever since its opening 2010, this has been a popular place among locals. Nowadays, many customers from Imugyaa visit the restaurant for the great food.
“Nmayaa” means “grandma’s house” in the Okinawan dialect.
“I remember at my grandma’s there was always somebody to chat with and always something to eat,” said owner Keiko Matsubara. “Our nmayaa was a place where people got together and had fun.”
It is not always easy for old folks to catch the bus to Hirara from Tomori so Keiko wanted to provide a convenient place where elderly local people could access easily and have their Okinawa soba. Creating a place just like her grandma’s house was always Keiko’s dream and the main reason she opened Nmayaa.
Once she hangs the “Open” sign outside at the start of the day, eager customers seem to fly in. Keiko estimates that 70 percent of her customers are local and the rest are tourists. Taking orders one after another and quickly preparing the fresh local vegetables to serve makes for a very busy kitchen.
Miyako-style Okinawa soba, tofu champuru (stir-fried tofu and vegetables) and curry are popular items. Pork cartilage sparerib soba, pork cartilage sparerib rice bowls and curries are Keiko’s recommendations.
Torotoro nankotsu soba is a delicious and hearty noodle dish. Chicken and pork bones, bonito and vegetables are simmered for three hours to make stock. The Miyako soba noodles are chewy and delicious.
Pork cartilage sparerib rice bowls are only available at Nmayaa. One healthy item, tofu champuru, contains plenty of vegetables and tofu. The great food seems to bring smiles to the faces of every customer.
Keiko’s special dish, Nmayaa curry, is especially for kids. She uses soba stock for the curry with plenty of ginger. It is as popular with mainland kids as it is with local kids.
“We have a local cooking experience activity once in a while,” Keiko said. “I would like to have more social hours like this on weekends so that families, tourists or newcomers can communicate with each other in my restaurant. I am thinking that a movie time or something like that would be great in the future.”
“Also I would like to open for dinner,” Keiko continues. “More of grandma’s cooking may be available here soon. Singing and dancing, playing sanshin (Okinawan shamisen) is another possibility. I would like to introduce otoori (the traditional way of drinking on Miyako Island) and some of the background history of this place to people. After all, this is Miyako, right?” She said, full of enthusiasm.
“Otoori could be a great tool for socializing between locals and tourists,” Keiko said. “It would be fun. We will do it for sure. Please visit us again!” Again, I felt her strong passion for building bridges between residents and visitors.
Someday soon perhaps, dinner service will start and folks will get to enjoy local music shows and otoori. When visiting Miyako Island, be sure to visit Nmayaa.
Address: 130-3 Tomori Gusukube, Miyakojima City, Okinawa
Hours: 11:30-15:00 (last order 14:30)
Okinawa Clip photo writer: Mika Azumi