JiroCho Sushi

CONTRIBUTED BY CHRIS DONG

Growing up in California, I had the good fortune of going on deep sea fishing trips with my father and grandfather. Early morning drives to the port were filled with contemplative silence, father and grandfather secretly hoping to win the day’s bragging rights for most fish caught. Me, I had sushi on the mind. Following a morning of rocking, knotting, baiting, casting, waiting, and reeling, 11:00am would finally arrive: Lunch!

The sea-breeze blows, the white waters roil, and my grandfather ceremoniously draws his well-worn cutting board, unsheathing his dangerously sharp sashimi knife as it glints in the high noon sun. Would-be samurais take note. Gramps was the real deal. After expertly filleting a fresh caught fish, he would lay before us a uniform row of delicately opaque slices, paired with his original ginger soy sauce. Other fishermen stared, mouths-agape with their half-eaten sandwiches. Yes, this superhero is my grandfather, the man who turns the simple, majestic.

JiroCho Sign
JiroCho Sign

Food critics say that a great meal allows those who partake a glimpse into nostalgia. JiroCho Sushi did just that. In my opinion one of the best sushi establishments on island, JiroCho feels like a step into Okinawa’s gloried past. Cobbled stone walkway, dark wood accents, driftwood rafters, paper-walled tatami seating, the atmosphere created is imperfectly rustic. Entering involves passing through JiroCho’s signature norem (cloth-curtained entrance), opening to a view of the sushi bar. Chefs look up with a smile, welcoming, always happy to see you.

JiroCho Tea
JiroCho Tea

Ordering from handwritten paper menus, our chef gave us his honest assessment of what was best for the day. For the more adventurous, cover the eyes, spin the menu, and point. A bit more traditionalist, I went “simple”; an assortment of sliced fish atop vinegared rice (nigiri) with just a spot of fresh green wasabi. Of all the things that could have been uttered after the first bite, I turned and dumbly whispered to my wife, “it’s like butter…” Luxuriously sweet, harmoniously sour, and a touch of nose-clearing kalai (spicy), each sushi delivered a perfect combination of flavor and texture. Accompanied with lightly crisped vegetable tempura, miso soup, and an ice-cold beer, it took some time before I could regain my composure.

JiroCho Sushi 1
JiroCho Sushi 1

Dinner continued with fish tempura paired with three flavored salts, a chilly seaweed salad, and a dip from JiroCho’s housemade awamori. It’s hypnotic, watching the chef working his magic from our front-row counter seats. Every hand movement calculated, fingers and palm shaping fish and rice into a perfect package. The craft of a sushi chef is fiercely disciplined, and the proof is here; JiroCho’s chefs are true artisans.

JiroCho Sushi 2
JiroCho Sushi 2

Taking a moment to look around the restaurant after dinner, I find familiarity in all the smiling faces of fellow customers. The very same expressions lit our faces at the hands of my grandfather’s sushi so many years ago. Ahh…shiawase (I’m so happy). Till next time.

JiroCho Drink
JiroCho Drink

Eat, drink, see: Chef’s choice assorted sushi, JiroCho Original Awamori, Taisho (Master Chef, unmistakably cool man behind the counter).

Hours: 1730-2400, Wed-Mon, Last order 2300, Tuesday Closed

Payment: Yen, Credit Card

Menu: Japanese, English Section

Directions: From Camp Foster commissary gate, take a right and head North on highway 58. Turn left at the second stoplight, T-intersection sandwiched between CowCow car dealership and Kathsmandap Curry House. Continue straight to next stoplight, take a right. Head straight, three blocks, and be alert for a parking lot to your left (iron horse statue), just before Brazilian BBQ.
Two other locations in Wakasa and Shuri.


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7 Comments
  • August 5, 2015

    Just went here tonight and arrived at 6pm. No wait time to get seated. Delicious noodles, salad, and huge variety sushi plate. Took almost an hour to eat. Card reader is broken so take cash to avoid standing in line while they called in the card transaction. Probably won’t go again just because of the wait time to get food.

    Curtis
    Reply
  • August 19, 2013

    I can’t believe I have lived within walking distance of this place for a year and only tried it a few weeks ago. It is wonderful. There is no giant menu, and there are no weird rolls. This is plain, simple, fresh food.

    Leah
    Reply
  • August 19, 2013

    Tried this place for the first time yesterday after being on island for a year after it came recommended by friends.- can’t believe I have been missing out on amazing sushi this whole time! Everything was fresh and the uni was particularly delicious. The restaurant is spacious and has a lot of seating. We will be back again soon as I heard the best is to sit at the sushi bar. Got a table for 4 on a sunday night without a problem and without reservations. Parking lot and takes credit cards so that was a plus. This is now my favorite sushi in Oki over Yoshihachi, Newport, zen, Kouwa, and Kama!

    JMA
    Reply
  • May 11, 2013

    Last night was my first time going here and it was the absolute best experience and customer service on island. Luckily I had google translate to share with them how much I loved it there and from then on they really pampered me. The chef gave me extra of my favorite nigiri and oolong tea for free to show his gratitude.

    Michelle
    Reply
  • April 8, 2013

    Probably the best shushi on the island, and possibly well beyond. I can’t get enough of the place. I can’t believe there are so few posts about this awesome restaurant.

    Mo
    Reply
  • June 26, 2012

    We went here on the recommendation of a local okinawan friend. the sushi is some of the best on the island. Keep in mind, it’s mainly sashimi and nigiri sushi. Very fresh tasting and would love to go there again. Con: very limited english/picture menu and the staff speaks english only “sukoshi” But it is fun to ask them to help with your japanese . . . it would be amazing if you could treat a japanese friend out and they can help you order/learn the culture and language. Price is typical sushi house pricing (ie 400-600 yen for 2 pc nigiri sushi)

    tlminh
    Reply
  • June 26, 2012

    Hi, sounds great! How were the prices?

    Octavia
    Reply