After Hours: Stacks Restaurant
I know I am going to make some of my culinary comrades mad by saying this, but my fully satisfied stomach says it’s true — Stacks Restaurant has the best barbecue ribs on the island.
Stacked high on my plate one recent Friday night were the tastiest barbecue ribs I’ve had since leaving Virginia some 25 years ago. I mean tender, falling-off-the-bone meat in a Memphis-style sauce that I’d almost kill to get the recipe for — but Stephon Peters, the owner and chef, is not telling.
He wouldn’t even let me in the kitchen to take photos.
But it was hard to get angry about his reluctance to share his secret. Peters is a nice guy, a former soldier, now a computer technician at Kadena Elementary School by day and a chef at night.
Peters described his menu best. “It’s my mother’s Sunday dinner,” he said.
Well, for two nights a week, anyway — Fridays and Saturdays. The other day Stacks is open his wife, Oraphan, cooks up the barbecue offerings and her own down-home Thai specialties.
Peters is also a minister (nondenominational) and a native of Petersburg, Va., where he worked as a cook, rising to become head chef at a local family restaurant before he joined the Army. Since I once worked for a daily newspaper there, we had a lot to chat about — until the ribs came.
After that, I left Peters and my dinner companion to fend for themselves. I was experiencing a gastronomic orgasm. I only hoped I wasn’t disturbing the other patrons sitting nearby.
Did I mention how good the ribs were? Even licking the sauce from my fingers was a treat.
As were the sweet cornbread served on its own skillet, the sweet potatoes, a sampling of the fried fish Peters offered and the chicken wings I snatched off my friend’s plate.
The only drawback is that I was there on a busy Friday night and missed Oraphan’s Thai lemongrass soup with shrimp and stir-fried vegetables that topped the Wednesday night menu. She offers a new specialty from her homeland every Wednesday night.
Oh yeah, and there’s the music. If you don’t like traditional Christian music and such, bring some earplugs. Peters said his restaurant is a “bridge between the church and community.”
“This is spiritual food,” he said. “What we offer is kind of like the bread of life. We have a place you can bring your children to and not be concerned about the language of the music.”
Location: Okinawa City, Okinawa
Hours: 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. No reservations, so get there early.
Specialties: Barbecue ribs, chicken wings, corn bread.
English menu: Yes
Clientele: Americans and Okinawans; families.
Prices: Main dishes $13 to $25, includes two sides and cornbread. Sides include macaroni and cheese, sweet potatoes, corn, black-eyed peas and potato wedges, each about $2.50 a la carte. The children’s menu offerings range from $5 to $9.
Direction: From Kadena Air Base’s Gate Two, continue east past the police station and turn right after passing the Eneos gas station on the right. Go down the hill and make the first right turn at the yellow wall. Stacks is on the right side of the road between a day care facility and a two-story white apartment building.