KISSA GITANO’s irresistible Cuban sandwich a taste of South Florida on Okinawa

Photo courtesy of KISSA GITANO
Photo courtesy of KISSA GITANO

KISSA GITANO’s irresistible Cuban sandwich a taste of South Florida on Okinawa

by Shoji Kudaka
Stripes Okinawa

After Typhoon Khanun was finally gone, I felt like getting out of the house to visit Okinawa’s Sunabe Seawall area for some rays and relaxation. The seawall is only a short 10-minute drive from my office on Camp Foster and the Sunabe neighborhood is my happy place. Eating tacos or burritos there also reminds me of the days I spent in the States. 

On this visit, I wanted a Cuban sandwich, a taste of my go-to when I lived in South Florida almost 20 years ago. Back in Florida, I lived very close to Little Havana in Miami, where I had many options for cafés and eateries serving up the unique sandwich at reasonable prices.

Searching on Instagram for a place to curb my craving, I found KISSA GITANO, a café near the Sunabe Baba Park, a popular skateboarding spot.

KISSA GITANO shares a space with Timeless Chocolate shop and has a fashionable look like a cool clothing store. In my boring, casual business attire, I was a little anxious about feeling like a fish out of water there. But, once I got passed its stylish wooden door, a relaxing and beachy vibe welcomed me.

In addition to Cuban sandwiches ($12 or 1,200 yen), the menu includes Chicken Seafood Paella, which is available in two sizes ($12 for one person or $36 for two to three person), garlic avocado shrimp sandwich ($12), and caprese sandwich ($10). On KISSA GITANO’s Instagram, the paella looked especially enticing, but I stuck to my original plan and ordered the Cuban.

After ordering and settling into my seat by the window, my Cuban sandwich arrived within five minutes. The sandwich wrapper was secured with a sticker that read “The best on the island,” a good sign that I was about to enjoy my meal.

Cuban sandwich

To the unfamiliar, a Cuban is a simple sandwich consisting of pork, ham, cheese, pickles and mustard served on a baguette and toasted. The presentation might not be as visually appealing as pizza or a hamburger, but the flavor more than makes up for it.

When I unwrapped the KISSA GITANO Cuban, the scent of baked cheese and pork and the nice touch of burn on the baguette made my mouth water. With one bite, it hit the spot. There was a perfect balance between the mustard and pickles, where the pork’s soft texture melded with the melting cheese.

The sandwich was so good that I was thinking about also trying paella, which is KISSA GITANO’s signature menu item. The Spanish dish also happens to be something I had several times in Miami, but I saved it for another time. The Cuban sandwich was satisfying and a good enough portion to ensure I didn’t need to order a paella this visit.

I left for home, thinking back to the time I spent in Little Havana and my next visit to KISSA GITANO.

GPS Coordinates: N 26.333123, E 127.744434

Hours: 10 a.m.–3 p.m. (Last order at 2:30 p.m., Wed-Sun)

*Closed Monday and Tuesday

*The restaurant accepts yen and U.S. dollars for payment.





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