Couple serves genuine Peruvian cuisine on island
Hidden along a small street that connects with Gate 2 Street near Kadena Air Base is Titicaca – a restaurant that offers an authentic taste of Peru.
Named after Lake Titicaca, between Peru and Bolivia, Titicaca is owned by Luis and Mary Higa, a Japanese couple born and raised in Peru. Their passion for good food inspired them to open this exceptional eatery in Okinawa.
Among the dishes offered at Titicaca, the “arroz con pollo” (chicken with rice) and “seco con frijoles” (beef stew with beans and vegetables) are the meals most widely ordered. But there’s much more to choose from.
Other Peruvian dishes sold at Titicaca include “pollo saltado” (stir fried chicken), “anticuchos” (grilled skewered stew meat), Aji de Gallina (chili pepper chicken), Jalea (deep-fried seafood) and Carapulcra – a spicy pork and chicken stew.
If you are in the mood for a snack, try yucca. Also known as manioc or cassava, this is a Peruvian vegetable similar to a potato, but different in texture and taste. The yucca sold at Titicaca is fresh, as it comes from the Higa’s own garden.
Titicaca also has several desserts to choose from, especially “alfajores,” or Peruvian cookies, which are so popular that they often sell out. But this eatery is as much about the couple that operates it as it is the wonderful food they serve.
Mary Higa is the culinary creator behind Titicaca, and her husband admits that when they first met he became enthralled with her partly because of the delicious meals she prepared for him. Since she was eight, Higa had cooked for her younger siblings and she developed a cooking style that is all her own. She also learned to decorate cakes with intricate designs at a patisserie school.
While living in Japan, the expert cook shared her Peruvian dishes with friends and was complemented so much on the unique taste of her homemade meals that it soon became the couple’s dream to open a Peruvian restaurant. They say they wanted the different cultural communities in Okinawa to sample Peruvian food made with Mary’s heart-felt devotion.
The Higas say they always wanted to own their own business and meet new friends; and the mix of new faces, cultures and languages that can be found in Titicaca each day gives them just that opportunity. Through their special homemade meals they are able to say “thank you” to the diverse community of Okinawa.
Titicaca is open Wednesdays through Mondays 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Customers can sit at a table or on tatami mats and the menu is in both English and Japanese. Titicaca also offers takeout. For more information, call the Higas at 090-1344-3688.
Note: This story was originally published in Stripes Okinawa, Jan. 14, 2011 edition.
Photo by Brent Stoddard