EDITOR’S NOTE: We have been informed that this restaurant is no longer open. We’re leaving in our archives for those of you who may be looking for it.
CONTRIBUTED BY JENNIFER MARTIN
Finding a multi-cultural restaurant in Okinawa isn’t difficult—however, finding a restaurant that pleases all members of my family is quite a nightmare. At last, our exhaustive search is over. Baratier isn’t just the solution: it is my new go-to eatery. It is my I-want-to-eat-every-meal-there kind of restaurant because it is absolutely delicious AND perfectly suited for our family.
Baratier serves ethnic foods from around the world and offers several fairly inexpensive all-you-can-eat options (menus in English!poisa). What do they offer? European-style cheese wheels melted at your table directly on delicious bread (similar to fondue); seared Brazilian-style meats carved tableside; perfectly baked thin crust pizza with choose-your-own-toppings; pasta with made-to-order sauce in numerous varieties; soups; risotto; and even ceviche! From daring (squid ink pasta, pig ear pasta) to simple (tomato basil pasta, cheese pizza), they have everything. Nearing the end of your feast they bring pineapple that has been roasting on the spit. The open fire slightly chars the pineapple and turns the juices into sugar—delicious! The food list goes on.
But, let me back up a bit. When I said that finding a restaurant was a nightmare, what I meant to say was that finding a restaurant that doesn’t kill one of us is amazing. Ahh, food allergies. A small touch on the skin and my son has anaphylaxis. His allergy? Shellfish. Yes, we live in the land where gifts from the sea flow freely, and even slight skin contact is dangerous. If you have a food allergy in your family, you know how hard it is to eat out in a country where you speak and read the language. I was pleased to find that I was able to communicate food allergy concerns with our server easily, and I speak minimal Japanese. Aside from our food-allergy son, our daughter is a spunky, vibrant three year-old (need I say more?), and my husband is a simple pizza kind of guy. I, on the other hand, enjoy complex flavors and genius combinations. To top it off, I don’t want to break the bank on one meal. It’s hard to find a restaurant that offers everything I seek, which is why I am so excited about Baratier.
The service was excellent—meat carvers made their delicious rounds frequently, bringing a variety of fire-roasted foods: sausage, beef, pork, and pineapple. My rather food-docile husband exclaimed, “Oh man!” so loudly after his first bite of roasted pork that I thought he was injured. My daughter loved the pumpkin pasta so much that when we ordered a second bowl she yelled, “Yay for me!!” When I attempted to share with her she became defensive and announced, “No, it’s MINE.” The pumpkin pasta sauce was a mild puree of butternut squash, and would be perfect for veggie-tricking a picky eater; it was phenomenal. The sauce was ladled over spaghetti pasta and perfectly cooked bok-choy. The sauces are definitely made-to order because the first bowl of pasta tasted slightly different than the second, both equally delicious. I love that they don’t re-heat previously made sauces!
For the foodies out there (and I know you’re there!), I have to tell you about the salmon crème pasta. Growing up in the Pacific Northwest had many advantages–knowing what freshly caught salmon tastes like is one of them. Of course, a distinct disadvantage is that I only find well-prepared, fresh fish edible. Perhaps the cynic in me orders salmon in an effort to distinguish the good from the bad. In any event, I often order salmon from a restaurant and hope for the best while tentatively holding my breath. Because salmon doesn’t run through Okinawa, fresh salmon is not usual (salmon typically served in sushi or even bought in the fish markets has been frozen and thawed). This poses a challenge for restaurants to make frozen salmon taste fresh. The salmon in my pasta was cooked perfectly, which can be difficult even in the most sophisticated establishments. In a busy kitchen with orders slamming in, one moment fish is not cooked enough, the next it’s too done. Once “medium” cooked salmon is added to pasta, it can become over-cooked, but my salmon was still medium-well while in my creamy pasta sauce. The sauce had a slightly salmon flavor, but it didn’t overwhelm the delicate flavors present in the sauce. It was delightful! I also sampled the Okinawa Pig Ear pasta, and it was absolutely fantastic. My 7 year-old son, 3 year-old daughter and my husband each thought it was terrific. The kitchen is an open space, too, so you can see the meat roasting and the chef cooking. I love establishments where the kitchen isn’t hiding behind two swinging doors.
Several beers are available on tap in addition to varieties that aren’t typically found in Japanese restaurants (Guinness, for example). Several wines are also available, although I didn’t sample any on this occasion.
The four of us: my food allergic son, my restless toddler, my food-indifferent husband, and I, the foodie, left with our stomachs full and our pockets not quite as empty as I expected. Our server accepted the mess my three year-old made underneath the table with a smile and a chuckle (one handful of rice, three spilled drinks, a few pieces of meat and some renegade strands of pasta), although I was willing to clean it myself. Ultimately, we left wanting to come back. And, I’m sure we will…again…and again….and, again.
Prices: It was roughly 1,500 Yen per adult for the pasta and meat combo, but you can order only all-you-can-eat meat OR pasta. Children 4 and under eat free. Soda was 100/glass, not included in the all you can eat, but there is an all-you-can drink option. We were told that their prices had come down from what is published on their menu. I believe that because they are a new restaurant, they are in the process of re-evaluating their prices to entice customers. Our food excursion with all you can eat pasta and meat (which included meats, pizza, rice, risotto, naan bread and curries) totaled 3,460 Yen.
Kid friendly: Yes! High chairs are available as well.
Hours: Lunch is from 11:00-16:00, with the last order at 15:00. Dinner is served from 17:30-22:00, with the last order at 21:00.
Directions: Baratier is on the second floor of Uruma City Plaza. If you park in the underground parking, take the escalator to the second floor. Turn right as you exit the escalator, and you will be facing Baratier. It is on the same level as Xystus Kids Land.
From Camp Courtney: Exit left out of the main gate on to 75. Make a right on 85. Make a right at the first stoplight. Uruma City Plaza will be on your left.
From Kadena: Exit right out of gate 3. Make a left on 85. You will pass Yellow Box. When you reach the intersection where you see the San A/Main city mall on your right, you need to turn LEFT. The next intersection will be 75; if you hit this, you’ve gone one stoplight too far.