CONTRIBUTED BY KELLYERACE
So, a bunch of the Oki Hai gang decided to make a field trip a couple of weeks ago to Arin Krin, “the Garlic Restaurant”. Folks have been searching for it on the website here, but we have yet to post a review. Well, we had to remedy that situation! And so we hopped in a couple of cars and headed south, breath mints at the ready.
As usual, the parking situation took awhile to work out. I ended up parking around the corner on the street, stalling my car in the process. There are only about four spots in front of the restaurant, so I’d recommend carpooling if you are in a big group.
I had made reservations, and we went on a weekday, so we were seated quickly. If you are in a large group and/or planning on dining there on the weekend, I’d certainly recommend calling ahead. The decor isn’t remarkable — wooden tables and dim lighting, but the scent of garlic permeating the air lends to the ambiance. There used to be a tatami section. That’s been done away with and replaced by five or six tables. I personally am kind of disappointed by that development, since tatami reminds me that I’m in Japan and, now that I have a baby, I appreciate having tatami for him to roll around on…but oh well.
We were seated in the new section and Aviva went to work compiling a list of what we wanted to order. I don’t remember what it all was, because we got a whole mess ‘o food, and far be it from me to do anything professional like, say, bring a notebook. Or take home her list, for that matter. But, I’ll share with you my personal Garlic House faves and a few standouts of the evening. For me, it is imperative to order the garlic pizza. If you don’t, then I mean, why even go. I also get the spicy fries. They’re not really that spicy, but have a kind of sweet, sticky sauce on them. Yummy. The third item is my “wild card”, usually something green like the garlic spinach, but it’s open.
I thought the deep fried garlic was delish, although not everyone agreed with me. I just like fried. The roasted garlic. How can you go wrong with that? The tuna avocado salad, still in the skin, very tasty. I wasn’t so much into the garlic pasta, which was on the bland side to me. But, I believe, the garlic mushroom pasta was favored by some in the room.
Regarding ordering: Because the portions are more like tapas size rather than full-on meals, I recommend getting several items. If it’s a big group, you can get a sampling of everything and then just split the check. If it’s just two of you, I think three items is probably enough, depending on what you order. (The pizza is pretty filling – fried garlic, not so much.) They also have no problem having several separate checks at one table if you choose. They’ll just take your name and that’s your ticket. When you’re done, take it to the cashier and pay up!
Somehow, we were able to polish off all of our food (thanks Joelle’s hubby!) AND have room for desert. Some garlic ice cream, maybe? No…desert is Big Dip, the big Blue Seal ice cream shop down the street. We heaved ourselves up from the table and paid up at the cashier. (I racked up like a gazillion stamps in my Arin Karin stamp card! Yeah!), then took a walk up the road for our icecream. It’s a little bit of a hike, you’ve got to go south on 58 and walk over the pedestrian overpass and down a bit more. After all that food though, it feels nice and refreshing. Plus, you get to catch up with the folks that were way down on the other side of the table that you didn’t get to talk to. I think an ice cream trip to Big Dip is an integral part of the Arin Krin experience. (I was lucky to have a fantabulous sponsor when I arrived to Okinawa almost three years ago, Karen, who introduced me to Arin Krin when I was fresh on the island and instilled that garlic/ice cream tradition in me! Thanks Karen!)
So, fat and happy with garlic and icecream we slowly made our way back to our cars, which happily weren’t towed, and bid our farewells. It’s always nice to have an excuse for a weekday get-together, don’t you think? And so with that, I leave you all with two questions: #1 What is your fave Arin Karin menu item? #2 So, where the heck do you park?
Thanks to Aviva for the photos provided here!
HOURS and PHONE:
Head south on HWY 58. After Camp Foster (and before Kinser) 58 will split and the middle lanes go up into an overpass/bridge thing. Don’t go up, stay to the left passing an A & W. At the first light where the overpass ends you’ll see Arin Karin on the corner on your left. It’s covered with crazy drawings of little garlic men. (There’s a big Pachinko Parlor with a Micky D’s on the right.)
Parking here is quite difficult as the restaurant has only about four spaces. Make sure you don’t park at the building across the street. I usually park on the street around the corner (along the chainlink fence.)