Utage Restaurant & Lounge
A while back, when I did a post on Sunrise, one of my readers asked if I knew of any other Okinawan restaurants. I mentioned this place, Utage, and offered a review on my next visit. Utage is located in the City Square building next to Young's Fish Market, Kalani Korean Bar-B-Q & Sugoi.
Friends of mine asked me to call on my next visit here so they could sample some of the Okinawan specialties served here. When we arrived at about 8:00 pm, a few of the high-backed vinyl booths were occupied. Although it looks small from the outside, this place is actually quite spacious. There are quite a few seats inside the restaurant.
This was the table next to mine. From what I could hear, it seemed as though the two couples enjoyed their food here tonight.
After looking over the menu and making our selections, this arrived at the table.
It was an appetizer of sorts, consisting of some pickled daikon that was crunchy, tangy and slightly sweet. Each meal comes with a beverage of your choice, so I decided to have some ocha (tea). Take a look at this teapot. My grandmother has one just like it at home.
A bowl of piping hot miso soup came next.
Filled with lots of firm cubes of tofu, chopped green onions and knotted konbu (seaweed), this was just a little too strong and a little too salty for my tastes. Nonetheless, I found it quite satisfying.
I chose the goya (bittermelon) chanpuru (stir fry with tofu and eggs) with shoyu pork (rafute) (US$9.25).
This dish can be prepared with shoyu pork, as shown above, or it can be prepared with pork, chicken, Spam, bacon or tuna. The shoyu pork was mouthmeltingly tender, its sweetness complimented the bitterness of the melon very well. The pieces of bittermelon were tender, yet still retained some bite. There was lots of flavor here, but much of it was too sweet. I also didn't like that there was a lot of "gravy" on the bottom of the dish -- I guess I don't really like it when the dish is served "wet". By the way, I didn't eat much of the fat that was on the pork. I ate a couple of pieces of pork with the fat and that was about enough for me.
For dessert, which was also included, I had a scoop of Dreyers green tea ice cream.
Both of my friends had the nabera (squash) chanpuru (stir fry with tofu and green onions) with chicken (US$9.25).
One had green tea ice cream, the other, tapioca.
The food here at Utage reminds me of home cooking -- nothing fancy, nothing spectacular, but comforting, even when they are not prepared exactly to my liking. In fact, many of these same dishes have been cooked for me at home by my grandmother, who is half Okinawan. I felt that for the price, the meal here was a good deal. For less than US$10.00 each meal comes with soup or salad, a drink (coffee, tea, iced tea, fruit punch), an entrée including rice, and dessert. These days, deals like this are very hard to find.
Utage Restaurant & Lounge
1286 Kalani Street Suite B102