Kushikatsu in Okinawa: 串カツ

串カツ kushikatsu: fried skewers.

I wrote previously about kushi-ya 串屋 establishments in general. Skewers of all types are fairly popular izakaya food. But Okinawa does have a few specific kushikatsu restaurants. Kushikatsu is actually considered a Kansai region food.

I will introduce 2 well-known kushikatsu restaurants in Okinawa; there are some more, smaller establishments about if you happen upon them.

First is Tanaka 田中, a chain from Osaka. It is located in Urasoe (P’s Square), with plenty of parking. They have a lot of my favorites, including garlic, shishito (small green peppers), benishouga (pickled ginger), shiitake, lotus root… plus meats for the meat eaters. The skewer prices are not too bad, but the drinks seem a bit high (though they do have nomihoudai 飲み放題 plans if you plan to drink a lot). And to be honest, I can’t imagine eating kushikatsu without beer to wash it down. They even have a a super-spicy tonkatsu-like sauce on the tables… it specifically says not for children on the label! By the way, you can order this sauce on Amazon Japan.

Next up is Monogatari 串家物語. This one is all-you-can-eat (tabehoudai 食べ放題), located on the 5th floor of Rycom Mall in Kitanakagusuku. The price is pretty cheap considering it is AYCE, and the quality is pretty good overall. Not only is it tabehoudai, you also fry them at your table. Every table has a built in fryer, and you go up to the bar to choose your items for frying, as well sauces for dipping. You also get a bowl with batter and one with breadcrumbs. It is fun to fry at your table; just don’t wear nice clothes because the smell will cling to them! Besides fried food, there is also a chocolate fountain, soft serve, and some other side items. We first ate at this chain in Kobe before it opened in Okinawa. When it opened in Okinawa, my husband immediately wanted to go there for his birthday lunch.


Skewers: 串 

串 kushi: skewer. The kanji even looks like a skewer, so easy to remember!

串屋: kushi-ya, the place where you will find grilled or fried skewered food. Kushi-yaki 串焼き is grilled, kushi-katsu 串カツ is fried. Similarly, there is 焼き鳥 yakitori which is grilled chicken and 炭火焼き sumibi-yaki which is charcoal grilled foods. All of these tend to mean skewered food in different variations.

In my opinion, these tend to be great drinking establishments; you can order individual sticks and small dishes over the course of the night.

Even though I do not eat meats, there are often times many other types of skewers and side dishes I can eat. Commonly you will find shiitake mushrooms, onions, shishitou peppers, garlic, potato, corn, tofu, ginkgo nuts, eggplant, lotus root… I also like edamame to snack on, and most establishments will serve you raw cabbage with tare (たれ sauce) for free. My husband likes the spicy cucumber pickles, too.

The kushi-katsu are fried, so this can be a little bit heavy while drinking. But fried foods and beer do seem to go well together. One of my favorites is 紅生姜 benishouga (pickled ginger). It sounds a little odd, deep-fried pickled ginger, but give it a try! Something about the flavor is really good to me. I always order it when we go to fried skewer restaurants.

There are even some chains that do all-you-can-eat kushi-katsu where you fry at your table! You get a plate and pick up the foods you want (meats, fish, vegetables, etc) and bring it back to you table, slather in batter and go. I warn you, you will smell like a fry pit when you leave; luckily they have storage underneath you seats for any jackets, purses, etc to protect them from the smell. It is a unique and fun experience, though, so try it out when you are in Japan.