It's not 'rare' to love this steak house in Naha

It's not 'rare' to love this steak house in Naha

by Shoji Kudaka
Stripes Okinawa

Like any other Okinawan family, mine used to dine at a steakhouse when there was something to celebrate. From birthdays to Christmas to school graduations, a steakhouse was the place we would go to share the joy, digging into an assortment of meat.

Tenderloin, sirloin, rib-eye, chuck-eye, New York style ... I can’t remember exactly what I had each time, but whatever steak I feasted on, it always tasted so right during those happy moments. 

For a long time now, Okinawa has been known for its steakhouses. There are so many that you may have a problem picking one. Every steakhouse has its own taste and style.  But if you are one of those steak lovers who think nothing beats the taste of steak cooked to “bloody” rare, Jack’s Steak House is your place.

A 15-minute drive from Naha Air Port, Jack’s Steak House - commonly called “Jackie” by local folks - has drawn many customers from not just local communities, but from mainland Japan, overseas and the U.S. military since 1953.  If it’s your first time, it may take some time to find this restaurant, as it is on a small street right behind Nest HOTEL Naha. But it’s worth the travel.

Once you find the location, the steakhouse welcomes you with its eye-popping red and yellow exterior. Outside the entrance you’ll see posters in “Showa period” design, putting you into a nostalgic mood.

Since this place is so popular, you may need to wait outside with other customers. But even the wait can be fun because the “traffic lights” installed outside the entrance let you know how crowded the place is and how long you need to wait before you get a green light for the wonderful food ride.  

What you see inside Jackie is an “American-style” diner straight out of old movies.  Although steak is what they most proudly serve, the menus on the walls are no different from the ones you would see in regular restaurants.  They have a variety of entrees, ranging from tenderloin steaks to sukiyaki to “rice curry” (this is how people called “curry rice” back in the day.)

I can spend hours just bragging about the uniqueness of its entrees like the chopped steak (Okinawans pronounce it “Chap Steak”) or steak sandwich. But let me focus on steak cooked (if you can call it that) to rare, as I dedicate this small review to those who love their steak rare. Very rare.

The “bloodiness” of the steaks served at Jackie will simply blow your mind away. Although waiters ask you if you are OK with steak cooked to “super” rare, you wouldn’t know what the word “super” really means until the steak is actually served.  But even if the color of the steak scares you, don’t hesitate to take the first bite. Because once you dig in, the smooth taste and soft texture will dazzle you.

For hardcore steak lovers, I recommend that you have your first bite without any sauce. This will allow you to enjoy the pure taste of the beef (Just so you know, all the sauces this restaurant makes are fabulous with the steak).  If the red color scares you at first glance, no need to get nervous. You can just flip the steak, and the hot iron plate that the steak is served on will make it “medium-rare.”

Another great thing about Jackie steaks is they don’t have much fat. The steak in the photo has a piece of fat in the middle, but that’s it. But it still retains softness that matches marbled steak.  So this is a very healthy steak that tastes good.  Even if you eat a large tenderloin steak (0.55lb), it is unlikely that the beef weighs heavy on your stomach.

As the autographs on the wall show, many Japanese celebrities have visited this restaurant. And it has been spotlighted recently by many TV shows.  But even after gaining prestige as a result of frequent media exposure, this place remains the same good old steakhouse as it was when it opened its doors for the first time 63 years ago.

In short, Jack’s Steak House is a restaurant for anyone who truly has a love for steak. Especially raw steal. Really raw steak.

Jack’s Steak House

Open: 11:00 a.m. – last order at 1:00 a.m.
Location: 1-7-3 Nishi-machi Naha-City, Okinawa, Japan 900-0036
Website: (Japanese)
For more information: call 098-868-2408 (Japanese)

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