Affordable Okinawan fare with a flare
There is a reason why Mikasa restaurant, near the Yu-rail’s Kencho-Mae Station in Matsuyama, is so popular: It’s their signature twists on tasty local fare.
“Champon” is this eatery’s most popular dish. This Okinawan favorite usually consists of stir-fried vegetables, tofu, Spam and scrambled egg over rice. At Mikasa, however, the dish looks fairly different.
“We use stir-fried ground meat and onion in our champon,” explains Mikasa’s Akiko Kuwae. She adds that the end result resembles stir-fried hamburger with a lightly scrambled eggs over rice. “It tastes rather sweet because we use a lot of onion.”
Mikasa’s prices are very reasonable, The champon and a cup of miso soup only cost 550 yen ($4.50). Other popular dishes include pork and vegetable sukiyaki for 650 yen and “yakiniku” (barbecue pork) for 600 yen. All three of these dishes come in rather large portions. All menu items, except for curry rice, are available as takeout.
“Most customers who order these dishes are satisfied with the size,” Kuwae says. “Very few find it necessary to order more food afterward.”
Although traditional Japanese sukiyaki is usually made with beef and “shirataki” yam noodles, Mikasa uses pork and “harusame” noodles made from beans. And they put beaten egg directly into the dish, instead of serving on the side as a dip.
“We found that sukiyaki is tastier with pork and harusame – especially when the meat broth saturates the rice,” says Kuwae. “So we indicate that our sukiyaki is made with pork on the menu.”
Butter is also offered in abundance as a condiment at Mikasa to add to your hot rice.
“It not only matches the taste of the dishes, but it also goes really well with beer,” says Kuwae.
You can enjoy Mikasa’s food virtually any time because it is open around the clock throughout the year, except for New Year’s and the Obon period in August. Kuwae says the restaurant has been open 24 hours ever since it was founded 45 years ago.
“Customers have been coming at all hours of the day,” Kuwae says. “While lodgers at neighboring hotels visit us in the early morning for breakfast, various bar employees show up at midnight after their shops close. I see a lot of local grandmas come in to chat with their friends over meals during the day.”
“I think knowing that we will always be open and serving their favorite meals any time of the day reassures customers and keeps them coming back,” Kuwae adds.
In addition to loyal locals, Kuwae says tourists from mainland of Japan and elsewhere also frequent Mikasa: “They say that locals told them about this restaurant and suggested that they try our champon.”
Hours: Mon-Sun, 24-hour operation (close New Year’s and Bon period)
Address: Inami Building 1F, 1-3-17 Matsuyama, Naha City
(10-minute walk from Kenchomaestation of Yu-rail)