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Authentic but Casual! [Kinjo Shoten] in Naha City is a Great Place to Go for Wonderful Charcuterie
post : 2019.11.23 19:00
“I wanted to do something different before I turned 30. I narrowed it down to climbing Mt. Fuji or opening up my own business…” That was the surprising response I got from the owner when I asked what got him in the business!
On January 3, 2016, Kinjo Shoten opened for business in an area that’s just a stone’s throw away from Okinawa University and Okinawa Women’s Junior College. Kinjo Shoten is a Charcuterie, a shop specializing in prepared meat products like ham, sausages and pate.
The owner is Hirowa Kinjo, who, in his 20s, was in the music world as a bassist and performed on stage five times a day. He had a deal with the live music pub to work in the kitchen in between performances. He says that’s when he acquired his kitchen experience, and also when he discovered the fun in cooking. He adds, “There were times when I never wanted to work in the kitchen again because it was a lot of work! But after I left, everything turned into great memories, even all the hard work…and after a while, I found myself wanting to get back into it.”
Before opening up his own business, he was apprenticing under a chef in a restaurant, and this chef had a passion for charcuterie. Kinjo-san liked preparing meat dishes, and with the influence from the chef, he became more and more interested in charcuterie and in about a year, he had acquired a lot of knowledge as he studied independently. “I like French and Italian cuisine, but the range and depth is expansive. So I wanted to focus and specialize in a specific genre.”
Kinjo-san aims to offer charcuterie using Okinawan ingredients, and produce items that go well with wine. He says it was a natural decision to choose Okinawan products as he started his business. “Freshness is key, and especially so with pork innards,” he says.
Once he decided to open his shop, he went around looking for the right spot and found this location. Kinjo-san is originally from Tomigusuku, but he says he also lived in this area in his 20s, and so he was very familiar with the neighborhood.
It’s a comfortably small shop and is available for private parties from five guests. He offers all-you-can-drink (Mugi Shokunin, Awamori, red and white wine, whisky and soft drinks), and dishes that he chooses, like salad, quiche, assortment of charcuteries, meat dish and bread, all for 3,500 yen for men and 3,000 yen for women. The dishes are very filling and delicious, and he says, “I want to make sure that people have plenty of food to eat, too.” (Dishes and ingredients vary depending on what’s fresh and available that day.)
The assorted dish of charcuterie is splendid and goes with both red and white wine. The plate includes black pepper seasoned ham from the chuck of pork, pate de champagne from Kibimaru pork, Tebichi (pettito) ham, duck breast meat ham, and white liver paste.
Another dish that goes great with wine is the Tebichi grilled with herbs and panko bread crumbs. The Tebichi is stewed for four hours and after the bones are removed, it is cooled off to keep its shape. Then panko bread crumbs are sprinkled before baking in the oven.
In Okinawa, pork meat is a staple in the food culture and people often say, “Every part of the pork is enjoyed except for their cries.” At Kinjo Shoten, they offer various pork dishes too, like the Mimiga (ears), tongue, cheeks, and even Chiraga, the pork’s facial skin served as fromage de tête. Various parts of the meat are harmoniously combined into one, letting you enjoy different textures and tastes at the same time.
He also offers a lineup of delicious meats other than pork. Shown above is a Confit made with young chicken from Yanbaru, heated slowly at low heat after immersing the ingredients in oil. The skin is crispy and the meat is juicy, and this simple yet delicious Confit was truly excellent.
“When people hear the word Charcuterie, they may not be too familiar with it, particularly in Japan. But it’s really not a super fancy thing, but something that can be enjoyed casually. I love to eat out too, and I enjoy that excitement of tasting something that may be a little bit different, and that’s what I want to deliver to my customers. I want to continue aiming high in terms of taste and quality, but keep my shop a place where people can drop by casually.”
Kinjo-san also offers sandwiches to go, which are getting more and more popular with people who work in the nieghborhood, and also the students in the area. Surprisingly, he also works at the Loisir Hotel twice a week, learning the ropes at their baking section because he wants to make his own breads in the future.
Kinjo-san is also looking for ways to offer his charcuterie items for takeout, which makes his shop another one to add to the list of businesses I definitely want to stay tuned to. Why don’t you swing by and pick up some authentic and delicious charcuterie items to enjoy with your wine for a delightfully sophisticated time?
Address: 2-4-14 Nagata, Naha City, Okinawa
Hours: Mon, Thu & Fri: 16:00 to 23:00
Sat & Sun: 14:00 to 23:00
Closed: Tue & Wed
Okinawa CLIP photo writer, Sachiko