CONTRIBUTED BY ALEXIS KNUTSON
When my parents told my husband and me they were coming to visit us in Okinawa, I immediately knew we had to take them to Onnaton. My husband and I had been there once before at the beginning of 2011 but only tried the appetizers since we weren’t very hungry. We knew that was a mistake when the table next to us received a pot of steaming broth on a tiny stove in the center of their table and the owner began placing pieces of vegetables and strips of meat into the pot. We had no idea what this style of cooking was called but decided we had to go back to investigate further, and this would be the perfect time to do it! My parents’ first dinner in Okinawa was at Onnaton and we all agreed it was one we will never forget.
As soon as my husband and I walked in, the owner, Kyohei, recognized us and greeted us by name. This was after only having been there once, months earlier. We were shocked! There are only four tables at the restaurant – two Japanese style and two booths. We chose Japanese style, which ended up being a little much for some since we were there for nearly three hours. But hey, it’s all about the experience, right?
Onnaton does not yet have English menus, but Kyohei said he is working on them. In the meantime, he will translate for you. There are three set courses you can try – the Aparagi Course (¥2680), the Onnaton Course (¥3600) or the Zeitaku or Luxury Course (¥4280). We chose the Onnaton Course which includes eight courses. We all had appetizers and salad to begin. Then came what we had all been waiting for, the boiling pot of incredibly delicious smelling broth in the center of our table. Kyohei brought out strips of pork and vegetables to add to the pot and explained that this style of cooking is called Shabu-Shabu, named after the sound the tongs make on the bottom of the metal pot. The first Japanese word my parents learned was “oishi” and they couldn’t stop saying it.
Pile after pile of pork went into the pot, then into our bellies once it had reached prime doneness. By the end of this course were all completely stuffed. And that’s when the next course came. Kyohei delivered a bowl of cheese risotto, then flambéed it at the table. We were all given spoons and told to dig in. I honestly could not get enough – the top was crispy, the bottom soft and gooey and it was oh-so cheesy throughout. By the end of the night we had to roll ourselves out of the restaurant.
Onnaton is definitely an experience you can not miss while on Okinawa. Kyohei just opened the restaurant in November 2010 and I know it will be wildly successful. He and his wife, Mayumi, own and operate the restaurant and are cooking up some delicious meals. Mayumi even makes a lot of the dipping sauces in house! The tempura vegetables are definitely worth trying and include tempura goya, Okinawan purple potatoes, and onion but this may change depending on the day. Onnaton has a great selection of Awamori as well and Kyohei will help you find the perfect bottle. Even though it is a set menu, it is definitely worth it for the incredible food and a night out you won’t forget.
Keep in mind that since the restaurant is small, it is only good for groups of 2-5 people.
Payment: ¥en only, no credit cards
Hours: Open everyday 17:30 – 23:00 but since it is just Kyohei and Mayumi running the restaurant, sometimes they are closed on Tuesdays or Wednesdays. If you are driving a ways to get here I would suggest avoiding those two days.
Directions: From Kadena Gate 1, head north on 58. Turn left onto route 6 toward Zampa Point/Torii Station. Continue on 6 past Torii Station and past the turnoff for Zampa Point. Continue on this road for approximately 3 minutes and you will see the red banners and a red deck/seating area of Onnaton on your right hand side. Immediately past Onnaton there is a gas station so if you reach that, turn around and park at the building next to the gas station – that’s Onnaton! Also, if you reach Forest Adventure, you have gone about 400 meters too far.
If you are coming from the north, head south on 58 until you reach route 6 entrance at the Renaissance Hotel and drive toward Maeda Point. Drive past Maeda Point on your right, then past Forest Adventure on your left. After about 400 meters you will see a gas station on the left. Onnaton is immediately on the other side of that gas station.