Get taste of Gotanda at Chinmaya in Okinawa

Chinmahan (mapo tofu over rice) a.k.a. the “taste of Gotanda” dazzles spicy food lovers on Okinawa as well.
Chinmahan (mapo tofu over rice) a.k.a. the “taste of Gotanda” dazzles spicy food lovers on Okinawa as well.

Get taste of Gotanda at Chinmaya in Okinawa

by Shoji Kudaka
Stripes Okinawa

Seeking a familiar flavor of my time years ago in Tokyo, I visited Chinmaya Izumizaki Icchoume-ten in Naha for spicy mapo tofu over rice.

The restaurant is the only Okinawa location of the 23-branch Chinmaya chain. Back when I lived in Tokyo until 2009, I was a regular at Chinmaya’s original location in Gotanda District. In 2022, Chinmaya Gotanda Higashiguchi Ekimae-ten unfortunately closed but I still have fond memories of this spot and their signature mapo tofu over rice. To this day, I can still taste the burn the dish left on my taste buds. The first branch was popular and mapo tofu over rice is considered the “taste of Gotanda,” so two other branches remain in the area.

Missing the days when this spicy food helped me rejuvenate after a long day at the office, I decided to try the branch on Okinawa. The Chinmaya location here is called Izumizaki Icchoume-ten, and you’ll find it near the south end of Kokusai Street nestled among business and government office buildings in Naha.

Izumizaki Ichhoumen-ten is a small restaurant with a striking resemblance to the one I frequented in Gotanda. Over the entrance I could see the letters “陳麻家” (Chinmaya), just like the former Gotanda branch had. However, there were also letters “担々麺” (dandan noodles) along with the letters “陳麻飯” for mapo tofu over rice. The unexpected additional menu item made me a little anxious for what was in store.

On the inside, the eatery looked like a cozy ramen joint. There was no counter with seats; seats were available at tables. I took one of the seats for single diners and ordered chinmahan (650 yen, approx. $4.90) just like in the old days.

I still remembered that the joint in Gotanda served up orders at a surprising pace. It probably took less than a minute to get an order out. In Naha this wasn’t the case, but I was happy to see my chinmahan arriving within a few minutes.

The chinmahan looked exactly like the one I remember from Gotanda. Better yet, it even left the same spice and fire in my mouth I knew and loved. With each bite, the spiciness almost felt like it might go over my tolerance, but then it would disappear. The flavor and fire of the dish lured me to continue and in five minutes my plate was cleared.

Though it was lunchtime, Chinmaya Izumizaki Icchoume-ten’s spicy mapo tofu was a much-needed refresh and walk down memory lane for me. Though I’m sad that the restaurant I frequented in Tokyo is now gone, I’m relieved to know that I can head to the Naha location for a familiar taste and burn.

If you love spicy dishes and mapo tofu, you’ll definitely enjoy Chinmaya Izumizaki Icchoume-ten’s fiery offering. Give it a try.

Chinmaya Izumizaki Icchoume-ten

GPS Coordinates: N 26.21185, E 127.67814

Hours: 11 a.m. – 2:30 p.m. (LO 2 p.m.)/ 5:30 – 9 p.m. (LO 8:30 p.m., weekday);

11 a.m. – 2:30 p.m. (LO 2 p.m., Sat)

*Closed on Sun, holiday 

*Hours subject to change



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