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A New & Fresh Breeze from Miso Meshiya Marutama (Naha City); “Foods Prepared with Care are Simply Delicious”
post : 2019.07.07 19:00
When you slide the heavy glass door to the right and peek into the establishment, you’ll be greeted by the huge miso barrel that sits at the front, proudly weathered and with a very strong presence. On the middle of the barrel is the logo, Marutama, and underneath the logo are the letters Tamanaha Miso in a narrow and elegant font.
Tamanaha Miso was established 160 years ago during the reign of King Sho Tai, a king that was enthroned at the tender age of four, and who was the last ruling king of Ryukyu Kingdom before Okinawa came to be. Since its establishment, Tamanaha Miso has continued to produce miso using the traditional, natural fermentation methods.
The owner, Takehisa Nakanishi, was born and bred in Tokyo. His mother is the daughter of the Tamanaha Miso establishment, and so since he was a child, he enjoyed the tastes of Tamanaha Miso. What’s more, his grandparents on his father’s side of the family made tofu every day to enjoy for dinner. He was brought up in a home where food was prepared with care and the rich food culture of Japan were valued.
After trying Tamanaha Miso on cucumber when he was in elementary school, he recognized the difference compared to the miso sold in supermarkets which are prepared with the quick-fermentation methods. Since then, he’s been a big fan of Tamanaha Miso.
After moving to Okinawa in 2005, Nakanishi-san was shocked to learn that even in Okinawa, Tamanaha Miso was not widely known, and so he started a retail company to sell the miso made by Tamanaha. As he visited various restaurants, nurseries and other facilities selling Tamanaha Miso, he started an online shopping site that dealt with other “good quality foods that are still not familiar” to people. With hopes in “showing people the authenticity of foods and ingredients that are used daily, but go somewhat unnoticed,” he also engaged in retail support for small businesses that could only produce small amounts or with limited selection and distribution.
His grandmother, Hisako Tamanaha (third generation proprietor of Tamanaha Miso), passed away in 2013 at the age of 103. This is when Nakanishi-san made a firm decision to do everything he could to expand the market for Tamanaha Miso products. The best way to do this, he decided, was to open a restaurant where people can actually taste the wonderful flavors created by Tamanaha Miso. This is how Miso Meshiya Marutama began in March of 2016.
Miso Meshiya Marutama is a specialty restaurant that serves various dishes prepared with miso. For many people in Japan, miso soup is a staple item for breakfast, and to meet that demand, the restaurant opens at 7:30 in the morning, serving the customers until 10:00, the delicious breakfasts that are carefully prepared. Their breakfast menu is perfect for those of us that experience very busy mornings that leaves us little time for a proper breakfast. For example, their Norwegian Salmon Set is served with a special miso sauce, and the Natto Miso Set has a unique combination of Niku Miso, a familiar Okinawan meat and miso dish, and Natto soy beans. They also have convenient takeout items like miso soups and Onigiri rice balls, too.
Their lunch menu includes the popular choice, Miso Soup Set, and one of the most popular Japanese breakfasts with an original twist is the Misoya-no Saba Miso Ni, which has mackerel braised in a special miso sauce. You can also enjoy Beni Buta Ginger Pork Set, and Inamuduchi Set which includes the traditional Okinawan soup, Inamuduchi. The rice is served in small portions, but just as the miso soups, refills are offered without charge, so if you have a big appetite, you’ll definitely be satisfied too.
The evening hours are from 17:00 to 22:00, serving up original dishes like Miso Fondue and pizza, to which many customers exclaim, “What a great way to use miso!” Their menu also has a great lineup of other dishes that will pleasantly break away the stereotypes of miso dishes, like the Jidori Chicken Baked with Tomato and Chicken that introduces the savory marriage of tomato sauce and miso, as well as the Home Roasted Pork, a specialty dish that features a gravy sauce seasoned with miso. They’re also presently working on various other new dishes, so we will most definitely be looking forward to that.
Nakanishi-san says, “Since our opening, the response we’ve been getting from our customers is far greater than what we had expected,” saying there are even those who come to enjoy our food three to four times a week. “We’re not doing anything that’s particularly difficult, really. I think it must be the miso that really completes the tastes of our dishes.” For many people who have worked in the food and beverage industry, they may have had their customers comment, “The food was delicious.” But for Nakanishi-san, nothing gives him greater joy than having many customers say to him, “The food was really, truly delicious!”
Starting your day with a heartwarming bowl of miso soup, and closing the day with foods that are good and kind for your body, accompanied with Awamori distilled in Shuri, or Shochu made in Kyushu’s circulation-type agriculture. This is the new and fresh breeze brought into the food culture of Okinawa by Miso Meshiya Marutama. The establishment offers much to discover about the wonderful allure of miso, every time you visit.
Miso Meshiya Marutama
Address: 1F 2-4-3 Izumizaki, Naha City, Okinawa
Okinawa CLIP photo writer, Nobuya Fukuda