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Bridging the Locals and Visitors at Miyako Island’s Diner, Nnmaya
post : 2018.11.29 06:00
Located approximately 20 minutes to the south-southeast of Miyako Airport on Miyako Island, is Nnmaya, a local diner at the entrance to the Tomori community. Tomori is known for the beautiful beach of Imugya Marine Garden, to which the locals refer to as Ingya. At the back of the diner are outdoor tables where you can enjoy their delicious foods outside, in your swimsuit!
Since its opening in 2010, Nnmaya has been a local favorite. Nowadays, more visitors who have discovered the beauty of Ingya also drop by for a bite at the quaint diner.
The owner, Keiko Matsubara tells me, “The name Nnmaya means ‘grandmother’s house’ because anytime you drop by, there will be someone, a grandmother to greet you with delicious food. Nnmaya is where people gather.”
For the local Oji and Oba (grandfathers and grandmothers), their big treat used to be to ride the bus to Hirara, the liveliest community on Miyako Island, to a soba noodle restaurant. Keiko wanted to make a place accessible for those locals to get together and enjoy themselves together, just like they would at grandma’s house. This is how Nnmaya all began.
As soon as the time rolls around for the shop to open, in comes one customer after another, poking their heads through the noren hanging at the entrance. Keiko says 70% of her customers are local Miyako residents (Miyakonchu), and 30% are tourists. The orders continue to come in soon after opening, and in the kitchen the dishes full of local vegetables are prepared efficiently.
On the menu are a selection of Miyako Soba, stir-fried tofu champuru, curry and rice, and Keiko’s top three recommendations, which are Nankotsu Soki Soba (soba noodles with pork ribs cooked until the cartilage is tender), Nankotsu Soki Donburi rice bowl, and curry and rice.
The soba noodles in the Miyako Soba have a firmness to the bite, and soup is carefully made over three hours, blending chicken, pork, bonito tuna, and vegetable broths. The melt-in-your-mouth Nankotsu cartilage is so delicious and hits the spot. The serving is generous, too.
Shown above are items ordered by local customers, the Nankotsu Soki Don that you can only enjoy at Nnmaya, and the healthy Tofu Champuru prepared with vegetables and tofu. Both are big enough to support big appetites. That smile shows how happy they are with their meals.
The Curry was added to the menu because many families with children came to the diner. Nnmaya’s curry uses the soba broth in its recipe and is a popular choice among the kids and also younger customers visiting from mainland Japan. The Curry isn’t too hot and even kids can enjoy it. It also has a generous portion of ginger in it, so after your meal, your body will feel nice and warmed up.
“We hold introductory Okinawa cooking sessions at the shop, but in the future, I hope to spend a couple of hours on the weekends for movie showings for families when the diner isn’t so busy. I want to make the shop even more of a good gathering place for families with small children, people new to the neighborhood or the island, for young and old to get together and exchange and get to know each other,” shares Keiko.
She adds with a twinkle in her eye, “I also hope to open in the evenings, too. We can have the local grandmothers taking turns to create traditional dishes. There are locals who sing and play the Sanshin (three-stringed instrument of Okinawa), so we can have folk music nights. We can explain to people the history of the unique Miyako drinking tradition of Otori, and we can enjoy drinking together by Otori. We are in Miyako, after all!”
“Taking turns drinking through Otori will let the locals and visitors have fun and enjoy getting to know each other. It’s nothing but fun. I’m definitely going to make it happen, so be sure to come back!” Keiko spoke with so much enthusiasm and drive to bridge the visitors and locals.
Perhaps around next year, there really will be a Nnmaya Night Version for all of us to enjoy Otori and Miyako’s folk music. If you visit Miyako Island, be sure to visit Nnmaya!
Address: 130-3 Gusukube Tomori, Miyakojima City, Okinawa
Hours: 11:30-15:00 (Last Order at 14:30)
Closed: Wednesdays & Thursdays
Okinawa CLIP photo writer, Mika Asaka