Karen: Taiwanese restaurant near Futenma serves up tasty dumplings

by Megumi Savoy
Stripes Okinawa

When Peter Tsai moved from Taiwan to Okinawa one of the first things he noticed was that there were no Taiwanese restaurants here. Certain that the rest of us on island didn’t know what we were missing, he decided to remedy the situation.

In October 2011, Tsai opened Karen Taiwan Bistro in Ginowan City, not far from Marine Corps Air Station Futenma’s Back Gate. Now, at last, we can find out what we’ve been missing – and the best part is we no longer have to do without.

Karen Taiwan’s most popular dish, by far, is “xiao long bao,” a steamed soup-filled dumpling. These dumplings are steamed to order and they serve them right out of the steamer. They are filled with yummy soup and meat.

During a recent visit, it was my first time trying xiao long bao and I had no idea how to eat them. Luckily, there are instructions, complete with pictures, on each table. So all I had to do was just follow the directions.

First, I had to make my own dipping sauce. All you need is brown vinegar, soy sauce and ginger slivers. When your steaming dumplings arrive at your table, you scoop out a dumpling with your trusty Chinese soup spoon and dip it into your sauce. There you have it.

As you spoon the dumpling into your month, the soup comes out with a burst of taste-bud-satisfying flavor. The meat is so tender and the whole dumpling just melts in your mouth. This is one unfamiliar eating experience that is well worth a try. I guarantee that you won’t regret it.

Although xiao long bao is usually considered to be a dim sum snack item, you can enjoy them for lunch set at Karen. The xiao long bao lunch set comes with eight dumplings, soup, pickled vegetables and desert for only 800 yen. Rice is not included, but you can order a bowl for a little extra.

They also have different lunch sets on the menu and an a la cart menu.

Karen is located across from Futenma Post Office by Ryubo shopping center in Futenma. This is a small restaurant with limited parking, reservations are strongly recommended. (You can park at Ryubo and walk to the restaurant.) They are open 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday.

URL: hualian.ti-da.net
www.facebook.com/futenma.karen
Email: peter.tsai.m@gmail.com
Address: 2-6-15 Futenma Ginowan-city Okinawa
Tel: 098-988-9982

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