Monday, September 8, 2014

Okinawan Home Cookin' at Kokoro no Yado

Before I tell you how fabulous this meal was, I have to apologize for the lack of good photos. I was too busy chewin’ and gruntin’ to waste time fiddling with a camera. This food is too good for Instagram.
The restaurant is Kokoro no Yado, where sisters Sigeyo Ishigaki and Kimiko Noha cook up local ingredients with big smiles and even bigger hospitality. What they don’t grow in their own garden they get from the sea or local farms.

Sisters Sigeyo Ishigaki and Kimiko Noha in the restaurant's home kitchen
Each dish is delicious and distinct. They do all the common Okinawan favorites, but they do them really, really well. The butter-grilled fish was amazing, aromatic with garlic that permeates evenly all the way to the bone. Then there was the pork and yama-imo stir-fry, which I did not see coming. 

Pork, Yama-imo, and Nira
It was like yin and yang on a plate, the meat bold, earthy, and super-savory, the veggies bright, snappy and slightly tart. Eaten separately, they were wonderful. Eaten together, they were mind-boggling. Every mouthful made me want more, and I was happily humbled.

But the fried octopus… it should be arrested for inciting social unrest. Both sweet and savory, not rubbery at all, satisfying in both flavor and texture and totally addictive, this “taco kara-age” was so good that all eight of us at the table sat there white-knuckled, eye-balling one another as we held ourselves back from shamelessly wolfing it all down.

However, I also have to describe the atmosphere, which was equally exceptional. The place is homey. In fact, it IS their home. Kimiko Noha and her husband Munenobu have lived in the house for 30 years, but they opened it as a restaurant only 2 years ago. You come in, sit down, and either order or leave it up to them to feed you. The sisters just cook it up and bring it out with easy smiles and grace. They are sincere and warm, and you really become a guest in their home.

Sigeyo Ishigaki, Kimiko Noha, and Munenobu Noha at the guest table

So treat yourself, your family, and your friends to some terrific food with these wonderful people. Put aside some time to try Kokoro no Yado, open 11:00-14:30 for lunch, 16:00-23:00 for dinner. 098-964-3885. For more info, visit the website at You can find Kokoro no Yado (心の宿) on Google Maps here.
心の宿 Kokoro no Yado

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