Great for girls who love good eats! A morning tour in the Restaurant Bus
post : 2017.01.30 18:00
Good food is always a great reason to choose a destination. Once you find the restaurant or food you are craving, the itinerary is set. I want to introduce visitors to a new way of enjoying both the food and the journey.
Restaurant Bus in vivid red
The kitchen is installed on the lower deck so diners can enjoy their local food courses while viewing the passing scenery from the upper deck. This special bus is the only one of its kind in Japan and made its way to Okinawa from Niigata and Tokyo. The moving gourmet tour is offered for a limited time only--through the end of February 2017. I joined the tour with one of my girlfriends.
The “local vegetable and Naha tuna soup” is part of the course menu
I joined the Okinawa Morning Course tour this time around. We departed from Okinawa Kariyushi Urban Resort Naha at 7:30 a.m. Soup was served first, in a yachimun (traditional Okinawan ceramic) bowl. Early January and February mornings are still chilly and dark in Okinawa so the hot soup was welcome.
Professional chefs on the lower deck are preparing the courses on the move.
Food is served hot on the bus. Experienced chefs organize the smooth operation of the kitchen.
Today’s soup, “local vegetable & Naha tuna soup,” contains carrots, potatoes, winter squash and tuna from Naha Port. Vegetables are sautéed with butter and simmered in milk with salt and pepper.
The uniquely shaped and colorful fish fascinated us.
“Okinawa takes third place in terms of tuna catches in Japan,” said Mr. Yamazato, our bus guide. We arrived at the first destination, a fish auction at the Fisheries Cooperative Association of Naha City.
A vivid blue Irabucha (species of parrotfish).
Before the bidding starts, we took pictures of Okinawan fish such as abasaa (porcupine fish) or irabucha. Those fish can be seen only rarely at mainland markets. The bidding started!
Chief Kenji Zayasu controls the bidding.
Fish were rapidly sold one after another by fishermen with vigorous voices at the bidding block. It was a great glimpse into the lively uminchu (fishermen’s) world.
Gurukun (pterocaesio digramma) is the official prefectural fish of Okinawa
A staffer from Restaurant Bus bid on and purchased gurukun. In Okinawa, this popular fish is usually served deep-fried, but we had to wait to see how the chef would prepare it. What an experience!
“Deep-fried miibai (grouper) with local shallots in vinegar dressing,” was the second course
When we returned to the bus, a refreshing dish was on the table: expensive miibai fish served with local vegetables such as shallots and okra and a vinaigrette dressing. The dish’s flavor had a hint of pineapple that was great with alcohol.
All-you-can-drink beer… Cheers!
Beer—including non-alcohol beers—and tea are all-you-can-drink on the bus. A toast in the morning is wonderful!
The beautiful blue ocean view from the window. What a great photo op!
…But, the beer on the bus is my top priority. The bus’s height is 3.8 meters, which is double the height of regular buses. The great view from the top deck made the beer even better.
This is not tap water; it is shiikuwaasaa (local citrus) juice
The next destination was Okinawa Tokusan Hanbai Yonaazu (an organization that features local staples). This surprising tap is popular with kids who are delighted to see the yellow fluid come out instead of water. Shiikuwaasaa is reputed to be great for health and beauty. After drinking beer, the sour juice is refreshing.
An old style Okinawan house
As we were enjoying the view of sugarcane fields from the window, we arrived at the last stop, Kyan. The area is not so popular with tourists, but it is for certain people because local artist “Kariyushi 58” filmed their promotion video in the area. The Okinawan house features the Ichibanza Room located to the right of the entrance followed by the Nibanza Room and Sanbanza Room. Local guide Takemitsu Moya, showed us around.
Making poh-poh crepe experience
It is not easy to make the thin Okinawan crepes!
We arrived at Mr. Moya’s house, which is old but very beautiful. We had an opportunity to make the traditional Okinawan snack called “poh-poh” here. You roll the thin crepe and eat it with or without sugar. They are also enjoyed in certain areas served with pork fat and miso. We tried them with brown sugar.
Great Okinawan food in an old Okinawan house.
After making poh-poh, we had traditional Okinawan food. Today’s selection was ninjin shirishiri (stir-fried carrots), naaberaa (Chinese okra) with miso, deep-fried gurukun (the fish we obtained at the bidding block) with sheekuwaasaa (local citrus) dressing. Gurukun meat is nice and firm and you can even eat the bones! Local ingredients are used in all of the dishes.
Warm freshly made tofu.
The tofu is from Tokumon Tofuya in Kyan area. This is the only tofu shop in the area and is very popular with locals and tourists for its flavor. The secret is pi (π) water that contains more oxygen and makes tofu sweeter. We had the tofu with bonito flakes and salt.
Very rich ice cream cone with mango sauce from Iriomote Island.
I am stuffed! We enjoyed chatting with Moya after the meal before returning to the bus—where dessert was waiting. The ice cream is from Yokoi Farm in Nashiro, Itoman City. We had ours with mango sauce. It seems I had room for dessert after all.
Happy smiles after good eats
With the sun directly above us and the tour about to end, the cool dessert was perfect!
I enjoyed going on the Okinawa Morning Course this time around. The Picnic Course is also available until the end of February—and includes a trip to Fukujuen (Chinese style garden), beaches, and sweets tastings.
Photo: Okinawa CLIP photo writer: Sachiko
Writer: Okinawa CLIP editorial staff: Minami Shinzato
The Okinawa Morning Course includes a trip to the fish auction and a fresh fish breakfast
Fee: 12,000 yen (tax included) per adult
*Tour requires a minimum of 10 participants
Official Website: http://travel.willer.co.jp/restaurantbus/