A huge, antique-looking miso barrel caught my eye when I opened the glass door. On it, I saw a logo that read “Marutama” and the name of the shop, “Tamanaha Miso.”
Tamanaha Miso has been in the miso-making business for about 160 years -- since the Ryukyu Kingodom period during the reign of King Shoutaiou who ascended to the throne when he was only four years old. Since then, the shop’s way of making naturally-brewed miso and has not changed.
Takehisa Nakanishi was born and grew up in Tokyo. His mother is originally from Okinawa and making miso was her family business. Takehisa grew up with Tamanaha miso. Since his father’s family was in the tofu-making business, Nakanishi was raised among great family food traditions.
Even sd a child, he noticed the difference between Tamanaha miso and store bought miso when he ate it with cucumbers. He has been always been a big fan of Tamanaha miso. The difference turned out to be that store-bought miso does not go through an important process (slow fermentation), and that sacrifices depth of flavor in miso.
When Nakanishi moved to Okinawa in 2005, he was shocked to see how few people knew about Tamanaha miso. He decided to start his own miso business “Tamanaha Miso Hanbai”. He visited restaurants and kindergartens to sell miso. While he was at it, he began selling various items on line. Since much of his on line selling was with products from small shops with little budget for marketing or advertising, his business turned out to be a great help for small business owners.
In 2013, his grandmother, Hisako Tamanaha passed away at 103 years old. She was the third-generation president of Tamanaha miso. Takehisa then decided to do his best to expand the family business. In order to convey the charms of miso to people, he opened a miso specialty restaurant called Miso-Meshi-ya Marutama in March, 2016.
This miso specialty restaurant opens from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. for breakfast. The morning menu includes “baked Norway salmon with miso set”, “natto (fermented soy beans) and pork and miso set”. Take outs like rice balls and miso soup set is also available for busy people.
For lunch, the miso soup set, simmered mackerel with miso set, benibuta pork with ginger set and Inamuduchu (Okinawan style white miso soup with pork and vegetables) set are available. Free refills of rice and miso soup will satisfy your hunger.
For dinner (17:00 – 22:00), unique offerings such as miso fondue or miso pizza are sure to please. Also “chicken with tomato and miso sauce,” “house roast pork with miso gravy” and other miso items that are new to many people are available. The unconventional miso dishes are unique and delicious. Even more items will be coming up in the near-future.
“Since opening day,” Takehisa said. “We have been receiving more positive comments than we expected. We are just making simple dishes with miso. It seems our miso is doing its great job.” According to Takehisa, some people visit the restaurant three or four times a week. He is encouraged by many of comments about the food like “It was super delicious.” Yes, ‘super delicious,’ not just ‘good.’
Starting the day with freshly made miso soup or bringing it to a relaxing finish with great food accompanied by awamori from Shuri Town or shochu from Kyushu. Please enjoy miso dishes and rediscover the charm of miso at Miso-meshi-ya Marutama every time you visit.
2-4-3-1F Izumizaki, Naha City, Okinawa