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Try the Shaved Ice and Sandwiches at [YES!!! PICNIC PARLOR (Naha City)]; A Stylish Parlor in the Alley.
post : 2019.03.17 06:00
In a quaint alley situated in Aja is a unique parlor which opened for business a year ago. Despite the location where the streets are filled with the atmosphere of old downtown, this area is just minutes from the new and developing Shintoshin area.
The parlor, YES!!! PICNIC PARLOR, has an American style interior with the basic colors of mint green, red and white, which is reminiscent of works by Pater Sato who does the illustrations for Mister Donut packages. Here, you can enjoy the popular sandwiches and colorful shaved ice as do the locals who grew up in Okinawa where the American influence was strong.
They have many items on their menu that I would recommend, especially the Abura-Miso (seasoned miso) Cutlet Sandwich. Enjoy it as a Pota-Dri Set which comes with freshly made fried potatoes and a beverage from their lineup of 13 varieties. The combination of the big, thick pork cutlet and Okinawa’s famous homemade Abura-Miso is fantastic. Their abura-miso is popular with all of their customers across generations, and is prepared based on the recipe belonging to the owner Satoru Matayoshi’s father, and at the shop, they use miso from Kumejima Island.
Matayoshi-san talked about why he got into the sandwich business, saying, “Since I was little, I loved the ham and cheese sandwiches that my parents made for me.” Sandwiches for him, it seemed, like a pleasant and nostalgic memory of his childhood.
After enjoying the sandwich came the fluffy shaved ice. The day’s recommendation was Shikwasa Milk. The refreshing citrus flavor and the sweetness of the icy treat was perfect after the savory cutlet sandwich.
One item I highly recommend is their Okinawa Zenzai. Because of the shop’s location, their customers are diverse; young children that come by with a handful of change, the gentleman who runs the flower shop across the alley, and the grandmothers from the neighborhood that come with a cane in hand. The Okinawa Zenzai offered at YES!!! PICNIC PARLOR has a taste that is truly local, completed by the tastes of their customers. It was created with the help of local, regular customers, giving their suggestions and advice, “How about this, or how about doing that?”
On a trip overseas, Matayoshi-san saw people enjoying a picnic on the green grass and thought, “I want to run a shop where people can enjoy everyday life like this.” He looked at various neighborhoods to set up shop, and finally decided to open up here, near the home of his partner’s (Nami Matayoshi) parents’ home.
Nami smiles as she explains, “Up until I was in junior high school, there was a popular, famous zenzai shop on this street. But lately, despite the many elderly residents in the neighborhood, there aren’t any shops for them to drop by, relax and enjoy themselves...that’s why my mother and I used to talk about how we want to open a shop on this street where the people in the neighborhood can casually drop by, and where young people will want to keep coming back.”
“There are groups of elementary school kids that come by, but the price of a shaved ice is high if you’re a child. And there might be a child in the group that can’t afford it. I felt bad for those kids, like they were left out while their friends enjoyed the treats. Then we decided to offer snacks that were affordable for all the kids, and although the selection’s not wide, we have those available, too.” I was touched to hear this casual but very Okinawan kindness.
While in Naha, be sure to drop by YES!!! PICNIC PARLOR for a break. Their newly introduced soft serve ice cream is also recommended, too! Recharge your energy at this parlor and enjoy your time on Okinawa.
YES!!! PICNIC PARLOR
Address: 183 Aja, Naha, Okinawa
Hours: Tue-Fri 10:00 to 19:00, Sat 9:00 to 19:00, Sun 9:00 to 17:00
Okinawa CLIP photo writer, Nobuya Fukuda