Roadside noodle shop is attraction all its own
Maeda Shokudo is a great affordable place to stop for a bite while exploring Okinawa’s northern attractions such as Mount Yonaha and Hiji Falls. But even if you are not planning to head north, this noodle shop is worth visiting to sample some classic Okinawan fare.
Lauded in various guidebooks such as “Japan Travelers Bureau,” “Shobun-sha” and “Diamond-sha” as one of the most popular noodle shops in the northern Okinawa, Maeda Shokudo offers a variety delicious dishes under 1,000 yen ($10).
The restaurant was founded in 1972 and has since made a name for itself serving up the same traditional local dishes such as three different flavors of “soki” (sparerib) soba and “gyuniku” (beef) soba – for only 700 yen.
Okinawan noodles are traditionally lightly seasoned, but Maeda Shokudo’s are rather heavily seasoned, making for a richer flavor. Shop owner Tamako Maeda says her most popular noodle dish, gyuniku soba, consist of spicy stir-fried beef and Okinawan soba noodles.
The thin and flat noodles are cooked first, then stir-fried with beef, bean sprouts and plenty of pepper. They are served in a bowl with a rich butter-flavored broth that draws out the tasty juice from the beef to blend perfectly with the noodles, according to Maeda.
“These noodles are rather spicy with a full-bodied broth that blends well with the chewy noodles,” she says, boasting that that this house recipe has been bringing customers back for more than 40 years.
In fact, this noodle shop is so popular that you should be prepared to wait in line for a while if you show up on weekends or holidays. But that’s not the only reason you should plan on getting their plenty early.
“Normally, we are open until 6 in the evening, but when the noodle broth runs out we often close earlier,” says Maeda.
It’s not just local palates that are drawn to Maeda Shokudo, either. This noodle house draws locals and U.S. service members, alike.
“A lot of Americans are regulars here, too” says Maeda. “They usually order our soki soba; I think it’s because they are familiar with the taste of spareribs.”
Another attraction for American appetites is the typical serving size. All the noodle and other dishes are served in huge portions to satisfy the biggest of eaters, according to Maeda.
Throw in the restaurant’s beachside location, and you have a roadside stop that’s a destination in its own right.
“This is the right place to take a rest on your long drive to or from northern Okinawa,” says Maeda. “You can enjoy various beach and ocean views – the blue sea and white sand by day, bright golden-red sunsets and the mysterious dark blue shadows sinking in the calmness at dusk.”
Hours: Thursday-Tuesday, 10 a.m.- 6 p.m.
Address: 985 Tsuha, Ogimison, Kunigami-gun (near Kadena Air Base, 3-minute walk from Daiichi Tsuha bus stop)
URL (in Japanese): r.gnavi.co.jp/f068300