Food from home, away from home
It’s Christmas day in Japan, and two expats, one British and one American, are spending their first ever Christmas away from home. Not only this, but they are spending it in a country which, outside of the pretty lights, jazz bands playing “Santa Claus is coming to town” and the jolly man himself, doesn't seem too concerned about our most precious time of year.
While Japanese people are picking up their pre-ordered Kentucky Fried Chicken, my friend and I are looking for somewhere that might sell something resembling a traditional roast dinner. And that’s when we find it, tucked away in the back streets: Han’s.
We are welcomed in by warm and friendly staff and seated at our table. The menu has pictures and titles translated into English. Individual meals are written in katakana, so even if you can’t read it you can have the waitress read it out for you, and then it's possible to understand. If not, you can play it safe and order based on the pictures.
While their range of steaks can be expensive (ranging from around ¥1000 - ¥3500), the meals they call 'appetisers' are actually full size meals are definitely reasonable at ¥600 - ¥800 a plate. The portions here are very generous, which I guess you might expect at a American style restaurant, and they came with free soup, salad and a choice of iced tea or coffee.
The place is decorated in a sort of wild west theme, which is common in Naha because of the American army base. But, being a little further from Kokusai dori and the general tourist area, it was not too crowded, and the prices were definitely more within our range.
Thinking the appetisers were actually appetisers, I order two instead of a main dish, and am shocked when a big portion of fish and chips and tomato basil pasta made their way towards me. Luckily, between the two of us, we manage to finish the three meals off. For British people, as it was for me, it might be hard to ignore the rare occurrence of fish and chips on a menu, just as my American friend couldn't ignore the steak. Which, she assured me, was delicious.
We left Han’s feeling full of Christmas spirit, not only because we had just spent our first Christmas away eating the comfort food our countries are famous for, but also due to the super friendly staff, and the random Japanese man who gave me a hat and chatted away to us in flawless English.
As we walked out onto the street to be greeted by locals enjoying a wild night out, we knew we’d found a good local haunt.