Taste of Okinawa: Roll up for a tasty burrito in Chatan

Photos by Shoji Kudaka
Photos by Shoji Kudaka

Taste of Okinawa: Roll up for a tasty burrito in Chatan

by Shoji Kudaka
Stripes Okinawa

Burritos are not common in Japan. To top that, putting one together can prove a challenge.

Former Third Eye Blind bassist Leo Kremer (who is also a co-founder of his own burrito chain) once compared making one to “making one car.”

Beans, guacamole, sour cream, cheese, lettuce, and more – the options for the inner workings of a great burrito are endless. Burritos are complicated and are defined by the preferences of the person making it and the person who will eat it.

In Okinawa, Roll Up Burritos is taking the challenge and giving its customers options to customize a masterpiece of their creation rolled into a tasty tortilla.

Located in a compact orange building along the Sunabe Seawall and about a five-minute drive from Gate 1 of Kadena Air Base, Roll Up Burrito really draws a crowd for lunch.

The joint looks like a beachfront food shack in the U.S. Its interior walls are adorned with menu items printed in chalk on blackboard, colorful photos of burritos and side dishes, plus T-shirts with the shop’s logo, exuding a fun and fashionable mood. 
If you see customers filling out what looks like a horse-race slip, don’t worry, it’s actually an order form to pick all of the delicious fillings you want in your burrito.

First, decide between a burrito bowl or two sizes of burritos: 9-inch or 12-inch. Then, choose from the 10 burrito bases offered, like vegetable, taco, teriyaki chicken, sausage and egg, just to name a few. Now here comes the fun part – customize your burrito with the many different topping options the shop offers, from various types of rice and vegetables to cheese and salsa.

With many options on the slip, first-time customers may find it hard to decide what to choose. But the employees are friendly and can assist you in deciding on right ingredients to fit you taste.

As a Mexican-food newbie, I asked Mari Nagano, one of the employees, for advice. At her suggestion, I ordered the 9-inch shrimp and guacamole burrito and a 9-inch yakiniku beef burrito (900 yen, about $7 each), which, she noted, are popular among servicemembers.

Nagano helped me with the customization, and my slip for shrimp and guacamole burrito got check marks for beans, Mexican rice, Mexican dressing, shredded cheese, lettuce, green tomato salsa, and cilantro. For the steak burrito, I checked guacamole, hash brown, garlic rice, steak dressing, melted cheese, lettuce, salsa, and fresh vegetables.

As for side dishes, Roll Up offers quesadillas, nachos, herb chicken, hash browns, salt chips, fries and more. My stomach, however, did not have room for sides, so I just stuck with the burritos.

At first taste, my shrimp and avocado burrito had a fruity taste, which stimulated my appetite a lot. The texture of the beans, cheese and other toppings together was great.

The surprise was when I bit into my steak burrito. The garlic rice and chopped steak ensemble created an addictive sweet and spicy taste I was not expecting.

The burritos went well beyond the size of a meal I would normally eat, but it didn’t not take me long to finish every last bite of these two Mexican delights. Not once during this meal were my taste buds bored, and the depth in flavor and textures made a robust eater out of me.

I washed down these masterpieces with Roll Up’s original lemonade. It deserves equal credit because Its delicate sweetness and distinct sourness cooled me down and set me up for one bite after another of the burritos.

Whether you are die-hard Mexican food enthusiast or newbie like me, Roll Up Burrito is worth a visit. Fill out the slip and get ready to be wowed by their burrito offerings.

Rollup Burritos
2-198 Miyagi, Chatan-cho, Okinawa 904-0113
GPS Coordinates: N 26.330373, E 127.743413
Hours: 9 a.m. – 8 p.m. 
Tel: 098-926-5068

* Extra toppings are subject to fees.
* Burritos are available as either nine- or 12-inch rolls.

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