Well I'll tell ya, Pilgram, head to Okinawa's Cowboy Family

Well I'll tell ya, Pilgram, head to Okinawa's Cowboy Family

by Ed Kelin
Stripes Okinawa

Right outside the east exit of the new Rycon Mall is Cowboy Family, a wonderful family steakhouse.  Lots of good food at reasonable prices.  When you walk in you are greeted by a friendly staff, all wearing cowboy hats.  The décor is bright and airy.  Taylor Swift fans beware, the piped in music is genuine cowboy music—lots of Hank Williams (the original, not Junior), Kitty Wells, Lefty Frizzell, etc.  The most modern music I heard was Johnny and June Carter Cash singing 1967’s “Jackson”.

There are so many options that when you sit down you are given several menus.  The main menu unfolds to show you 25 different entrees, each with three different sized portions.  The specialty at Cowboy Family is their Angus Beef, which is brought in fresh from the US.   You can have Angus Steak—six different ways, Angus Hamburger Steak—eight ways, none on a roll, Angus steak/hamburger combos—five versions; and, for the non-red meat club, chicken served six different ways.  On a separate menu are some Okinawan-styled meat dishes, including pork.  Finally, there is a menu just for T-Bone and L-Bone steak entrees.  For you rustlers with a Mongo-sized appetite, the granddaddy is a T-bone steak weighing in at nearly 1 1/3rd pounds!  Add it all up and there are over 100 options! 

After spending a good ten minutes looking at all the options, my lunch mate and I both wanted the same thing.  Since that wasn’t right, we made up our own sampler:  Angus Steak with mushrooms and onion-pepper sauce, a regular Steak/Hamburger combo and a Chicken Teriyaki. 

Depending upon what you order, prices for a complete meal start as low as $10 for chicken and Angus Hamburger Steaks, $12 for Angus Steaks.  There is a pricing option for the big steaks if you want to share one entrée and get two salad/dessert bars.  If you want to share, that is.

After placing our order we headed to a great salad bar.  There are all the regulars one expects at a US restaurant.  I really liked the creamed corn (not too creamy) and the home made mashed potatoes (very buttery).  I noticed the dessert bar and made a mental note to leave a little room after the entrees arrive.  If you’re not into meat but are forced to come to watch others chow down, you can order just the salad bar.

Our food came out hot and sizzling on cast iron skillets.  You can order your steaks to your preference and mine came out a nice medium rare.  I tried to check on my lunch mate’s choice of mushroom steak, but she ate it too quickly for me to see how it came out of the kitchen.  The chicken teriyaki sauce was nice and sweet.  There is A1 available if you want, but I recommend trying one of Cowboy Family’s three homemade alternatives.  Their Mild is much like A1, but without the strong aftertaste.  There is also a tangy Japanese Ginger Citrus sauce and a spicier Radish Soy blend.  The entrees come with potato wedges—but since they are Japanese-sized portions (just a few) you should have room for another trip to the salad bar.

Besides the salad and dessert bar, your entrée also comes with unlimited drinks except, alas, beer.  According to manager Atsuko Tanaka, bilingual menus are on the way.  The service team is mostly bilingual, but in a pinch just point to the photo of what you want on the big menus.  There is one quirk regarding the bathrooms.  One is for women and one is for both men and women.  I was too embarrassed to find out why it was set up this way.

There is also a kid’s menu—note this is a family restaurant—and they also can handle birthday parties.  Special cake comes if you call ahead.

Cowboy Family is a Japanese chain and the Rycon Mall location is the first on Okinawa.  The chain is part of Royal Host Company, which was started by Kyoichi Egashira, who did catering for the US Military in Fukuoka, Japan.  The first restaurant opened in 1950 and once served Marilyn Monroe and Joe DiMaggio.  If it was good enough for the Yankee Clipper, that’s about as good an endorsement as you can get.  

I never made it back to the graze at the dessert bar, but I did get a vanilla soft-serve ice cream cone.

Okinawa Rycom Mall

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