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Korean Bistro [Oppa Kinpa] in Naha City Specializes in Korean Rolls Packed with Fresh Okinawan Vegetables
post : 2020.12.07 07:00
*Note from Editor: Oppa Kinpa has moved from its original location. Information on the new location is listed at the bottom of this article.
Oppa Kinpa opened on May 6, 2015 in the Maejima neighborhood of Naha City, offering tasty Korean seaweed rolls. These rolls may look similar to Japanese Futomaki rolls, but instead of vinegared rice, the rice is seasoned with salt and sesame seed oil, and the seaweed is acid-free with a delightful scent of the seas and are generally hard to find even in Korea. Oppa Kinpa was one of the first establishments to offer this Korean specialty in Naha City, and they quickly became the talk of the town soon after they opened.
Running the shop is Oppa (Korean for older brother), Park Jin Son* and his wife, Yuko Nagahama. Oppa dreamt of “opening his own restaurant one day” as he was working hard and honing his skills in Seoul up to two years before he realized his dream in Okinawa. For a while, he went back and forth from his hometown of Seoul to Okinawa where his wife is originally from, but the two of them decided, “let’s raise our kids in Okinawa!” He then worked at restaurants in Okinawa and went to various establishments on his days off to learn about the local tastes. Then one day, they came across the perfect location with everything they hoped for. Since they found the location sooner than expected, they opened much earlier than they had planned, but still, they were ready to take the big step.
*Note from translator: English spelling of the owner’s name cannot be verified from the original Japanese article, and may not be correct.
While living in Okinawa, Oppa began to wonder, “are Okinawans eating enough vegetables?” And so, he decided to offer Korean Kinpa, a seaweed roll packed with vegetables. When it comes to food, Oppa has strong particularities, and the ingredients he chose to offer in his kinpa were produce grown and harvested in Okinawa. Oppa says, “Even if profits may go down, I just want my customers to enjoy delicious food with a peace of mind, knowing that what they’re eating is totally safe. If I’m not satisfied with the food I serve, then the customers won’t be, neither.” When procuring vegetables that may not be in season in Okinawa, Oppa buys vegetables produced domestically to ensure their safety. Ideal rice for kinpa is similar to sushi rice or stir-fried rice where the grains are slightly firmer, so he consulted with a rice specialty store and decided to use Kinumusume produced in Shimane, which is delicious even when served cold.
Their “Uma-Kara Buta-Niku Salad Don” (salad bowl with spicey pork) has a big serving of vegetables topped with delicious, spicey pork. The salad bowl was added to their menu after Oppa made it for Yuko-san, who wasn’t particularly fond of vegetables. Make sure you toss the salad well before you dig in.
The “Bulgogi Kinpa” (on the right in the photo above) is packed with spinach, carrots, chives, paprika, bulgogi (grilled beef with a sweet seasoning), homemade pickled Takuan radish, and eggs, and their “Yasai (vegetable) Kinpa” contains burdock instead of meat. Both of these tasty rolls are available for takeout. Because the amount of rice is much less than the other ingredients in the roll, they’re low in carbs and nutritiously well-balanced, so they’re very popular with families with young children, and the elderly who are conscious of their health. The delightful aroma of sesame oil will fill your senses as you take a bite, and the mix of ingredients offer a wonderful texture.
This is a wonderful restaurant to enjoy a healthy and delicious meal, and particularly great for those who are feeling they’re not getting enough vegetables or are not really a big fan of veggies.
Korean Bistro Oppa Kinpa
Address: 3-8-7 Tabaru, Naha City, Okinawa
Hours: Lunch from 11:30 to 14:00 (Last Order at 14:00)
Dinner from 18:30 to 24:00 (Last Order at 22:00)
Closed: Sundays & Mondays
Okinawa CLIP photo writer, Sachiko