Chatan eatery serves up grilled goods

Restaurant Guide

Chatan eatery serves up grilled goods

by: Christopher Dong | Courtesy of Okinawa Hai | June 18, 2013
Tsuki To UtsuwaCuisine: Japanese, Pub
Price:
3
Review:
4
Hours: Tuesday: 18:00-1:00
Thursday: 18:00-1:00
Saturday: 18:00-1:00
: 18:00-1:00
: 18:00-1:00
Sunday: 18:00-1:00
Address:
11-14-102, Minato, Chatan-cho
904-0114 Nakagami-gun , 47
Japan
Phone: 098-936-7937
Email:
Menu: n/a
URL:
Located in Chatan, just south of Sunabe, Tsuki To Utsuwa is one of the best yakitori restaurants on island. Yakitori is a popular form of Japanese cuisine involving grilled chicken or meat and vegetable assortments cooked and served on bamboo skewers.
Believed to have originated during Japan’s Edo Period, yakitori (literally, “grilled bird”) was served in food stalls as convenient meals enroute to temples and shrines. Chicken meat was expensive, so the more primal parts were often grilled to serve. As with any poor man’s food, chicken scraps, skin, butt, cartilage and liver were made appealing through culinary skill and finesse. Today, these parts are the height of demand.
Not to say that these tasty morsels are the only items you’ll find on the menu. Tsuki To Utsuwa rounds its fare with select chicken, local pork, and fresh vegetables. You’ll find that this restaurant exudes careful selection and balance; the meats are ordered and prepared daily, while the vegetables arrive direct from farms in Kyoto, a region famous for its produce.
The wood charcoal used to grill is hand-selected and carefully heated one hour prior to service. “They are living things,” says owner Yuichiro, and as the source of life for his establishment, Yuichiro tends to his coals with loving care. There is also a great selection of Japanese spirits, and Tsuki To Utsawa offers a choice wine list.
One of the first things I noticed as we took our counter seats was the weightlessness of the chopsticks. Shapely thin and poised, these balanced utensils set a precedent for the experience to come. I ordered a frosty mug of Heartland Draft. Seldom found in Okinawa, Heartland represents Kirin brewing company’s craft lager; clean, hoppy and refreshing. Perfectly paired with our appetizer, Kyuuriage (deep-fried cucumber), which came scalding from the fry, amazingly crispy and juicy, with a good spritz of lemon. Encore was a soothing sesame tofu, cleansing and preparing us for the main course.
I pressed my face up to the glass that separated me from Yuichiro’s grill. Juices bubbled, meats crisped, and smoke enveloped my chef’s eight choice skewers. Pork, chicken, liver, butts, cheese, basil and leeks, each shiny from a coating of sauce, uniformly perched, suspended atop the grill, sizzling and caramelizing.
To the left were smoldering tomato, fava beans, pumpkin, and eggplant. The layering of flavors was amazing: salt to sweet, sour to savory, each stick delivering varying sensation. To get my second wind, sake was the answer. Yuichiro passed me a basket of cups handmade by his father, a beautiful earthy brown one called to me.
As I dropped the final naked skewer into a wooden jar and tipped back the last drops of sake, Yuichiro asked if there was anything else I would like. “Onaka ga ippai” (stomach is full), I said, and he grinned, as only an artisan would grin, knowing that someone has appreciated his craft.
Hours: 6 p.m.-1 a.m., last order 2400
Payment: Yen, Credit Card
Menu: Japanese and English
Directions: From Kadena Gate 1, turn left onto 58 south, turn right at the first light after the 23. Then turn left at the fourth road and the restaurant will be on your left.

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