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At a Stall Which is Rare in Okinawa, Let’s Spend the Night On the Southern Island. “Nidaime Nekojita”
post : 2015.02.03 19:00
There is a stand that appears at night around the corner of the business district which is crowded with the prefectural office building, the city office, the bank, the TV station, office buildings tenanted with companies of mainland Japan. The name of the stand is “Nidaime Nekojita.”
When you get off the sixth monorail station, “Kenchomae Station” from Naha Airport, you can find the largest business district in Okinawa. When you go down on the staircase, you can find a red lantern in a tiny space, which is used for parking during the daytime.
That is a landmark to find the Nidaime Nekojita!
The owner of the stand is Mr. Atsushi Takahashi, who was born in Kyoto, started this business in June 2010. He took over from the late owner, and it has been popular, serving oden* in winter and kushiage* in summer.
*oden: a Japanese hot pot dish in which ingredients are slowly simmered in a soy sauce based soup.
* kushiage: a Japanese dish of seasoned, skewered and grilled meat
When I sat on a seat, I immediately ordered hamaguri (common orient clam), tebichi (pig’s feet simmered in broth) from the oden, his specialty dish. Then I ordered awamori with shiikuwaasaa soda. This is my usual order items.
After he gets my order, he starts simmering the hamaguri in the oden broth. The texture of tebichi is puripuri (plump with a nice resistance) and korikori (good chewy texture), and the soup is rich in savory flavor freshly coming out from the meat. I am really into this taste. The dainty taste of the oden, which is originated in the Kansai Region*, is a little arranged in an Okinawan style. So it goes perfectly well with awamori.
*The Kansai region lies in the southern-central region of Japan's main island Honshū.
When you look at the left of the counter, you can find three 1.8L bottles (called isshobin) of Nihonshu (Japanese sake). On the second trip to Okinawa, Mr. Takahashi decided to move to Okinawa, and loves awamori from Ishigaki Island, Miyako Island and Iheya Island. He is also crazy about Japanese sake because he worked in Wakayama as a chef.
Enjoying the conversation with customers at a moderate distance, Mr. Takahashi cooks and prepares alcohol with brisk efficiency.
I asked him what had made him happy about doing the business.
He said, “A regular customer says he has visited Okinawa just for my stand. I thought he lived in Okinawa, but I was surprised to know he was visiting here from Fukuoka.”
Even though many LCC entered into Okinawa routes, he really appreciates a regular customer coming to Okinawa just to drink sake at the street stall. The shop has a wide variety of customers from young to old. The 40% of the total customers are people who moved to Okinawa, another 40% are the local people and remaining 20% are tourists.
Not a few times, customers who met each other for the first time at his store clicked instantly and ended up going to karaoke, the second drinking place and the third drinking place.
A serendipitous encounter is one of the best things while traveling. A street stand is a perfect place for that. Customers happen to sit side by side quickly form friendships with each other, which is a great charm of the street stand.
At the small street stand with no noren (Japanese doorway hanging curtain) and no constraints, let’s fully enjoy the night in the southern island!
Address: Onari-bashi Parking Area, 3-20-9, Kumoji, Naha City
Opening Hours: 20:00 to 27:00
(Closed on Sundays, Mondays, Rainy, Gale and Typhoon Days)
Okinawa CLIP Photo Writer Nobuya Fukuda