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Housed in a Vintage Okinawan Home on Ishigaki Island, [Ananda Kitchen] Serves Up Vegetarian Dishes of South India
post : 2019.12.13 19:00
Ananda Kitchen is a sweet looking restaurant in an old residence that has tastefully kept its old charm, located in a quiet residential area not too far from Ishigaki Island’s entertainment district. All the South Indian dishes served at this restaurant, which is run by two women, are vegetarian.
The two women, who truly love India, spend three months every year in South India, and for the rest of the year, they run their restaurant in Ishigaki Island. They use fresh seasonal ingredients of the island, and offer carefully prepared curries and desserts that they create using the spices they get from India. They offer different curries every day, like bean curry, or green curry made with plenty of vegetables harvested on the island. They use zero artificial seasonings and additives in their creations.
The photo above shows South Indian “meals” with everything; three types of curry, vegetables, fermented brown rice, and other delicious fares that you can enjoy in one plate. A “meal” is a set of various South Indian cuisine.
The vegetable dish is prepared with Indian spices and offer a new experience in cooking and tasting fresh vegetables of the island. The vegetable dish I had, shown in the photo, was made with all sorts of vegetables from the island, like papaya, water spinach, pumpkin, and others. Even if you’re unsure about vegetarian meals, take it from me, it was really a satisfying meal.
The lemon rice is often eaten for breakfast in South India, and is prepared here with island lemons and nuts. The round, donut-looking item is deep-fried bean paste, and is made from scratch. Each order is served with a freshly deep-fried ring, which is aromatic and delicious.
The enzyme juice is made with fresh, seasonal fruits, and when I went, I enjoyed a glass made with pineapples, passion fruits, and other delicious fruits.
They also offer mint rice, and tamarind rice, made with the very popular Indian ingredient, tamarind. Tamarind is a leguminous tree, and the taste is acidic like Japanese Umeboshi, or picked plums.
The restaurant is operated by these ladies above, Emi Yamagishi and Atsumi Yoshikawa. When they’re in India for three months every winter, they spend their time learning various cooking methods from their host families at their homestay place, do yoga, and enjoy eating delicious foods. Every year, the restaurant on Ishigaki is closed when they’re in India for three months.
Nowadays, the customers they welcome are not just vegetarians, and there are many locals who come by often. They even have local Oji and Oba (grandpas and grandmas) as their regular customers.
“We were pleasantly surprised that the locals were happy with our food, too, and every day, we enjoy what we do because it feels so rewarding,” they shared. You can tell how fulfilled they are with one look at their smiles.
At the back of the restaurant is a parking area, and also their charming garden with beautiful greenery. They grow numerous kinds of herbs like curry leaves that they use in the dishes they offer at the restaurant.
The atmosphere is peaceful and comfortable, like you’re in South India. They still use the antique, black telephones that we don’t often see anymore. The time seems to pass by slower here, and the breeze is truly relaxing. I hope you’ll get a chance to visit Ananda Kitchen while you’re on Ishigaki Island, to feel a little bit of India.
Address: 168 Okawa, Ishigaki City, Okinawa
Hours: 11:30 to 17:00
*Closed for approximately three months over the winter season.
Ananda Kitchen is scheduled to close for the winter season starting around December 20, 2019.
Okinawa CLIP photo writer, Masumi Sasamoto