CONTRIBUTED BY SARAH FORTE

Coco1

Once upon a time (about 2 ½ years ago), in a faraway land (Nebraska), a young man and a woman were on their second date. The man told of a land called Okinawa and a certain restaurant on his beloved island called Coco Ichibanya. His eyes shone with love. This love wasn’t for his date (yet), but for a place that had won him over on a TDY years before. Ahhh…

Fast forward. You know how things go in the military: fast and in ironic circles. In less than two years the couple were married and headed to Okinawa. And to Coco’s.

Yep, you guessed it, that woman is me. I don’t know if this holds true in all circles, but in our part of the military, Okinawa is synonymous with Coco’s. (No, not the nail place or the convenience store – the curry place!) If you were going to Oki, you’d better be taking orders for what kind of Coco’s to bring back. Grown men go misty-eyed just thinking about it. When it was announced that our next station was on The Rock we heard wistful sighs of, “Ah Coco’s.”

My husband explained, “We will go. You will think it is fine or even good, but not think it has lived up to the hype. Then about 24 hours later you will wake up thinking about it. You will need Coco’s.” Apparently I would have to experience this myself.

And soon after we got here, my husband called me in our billeting room – he had secured transportation to Coco’s! His excitement was contagious. And though our life still had that dream-like mixed with jet-lagged feeling of “Whoa, this is where I live,” I can agree with those who say you never forget your first Coco’s trip. Here is my experience:

We walked in to a chorus of “Irasshaimase” (which means “Welcome” or “Come in!”) and were shown to our table. We were given a pitcher of ice water and menus. There were many menus, but one was translated into multiple languages (www.ichibanya.co.jp/english/info/multilingual.html). To order, we pressed the button on the table. (Since then we have pressed many buttons on many restaurant tables, but this was new to me.) The waitress rushed over I ordered the stewed chicken curry, level three. My husband had his old favorite, cuttle fish, regular spice. We also ordered a salad and some naan bread. As the food arrived I videoed my husband and his reunion with his long lost love!

As happy as I was for him, the prediction was true. I thought the food was fine, even good, but I didn’t quite “get it” yet. But now a little time has passed and I too have fallen in love with Okinawa and also with Coco’s. We have been back and enjoyed different kinds, different spice levels, entered contests, and even bought Coco’s spoons of our own. I hate thinking about leaving this place, but you can be sure that at least one household goods crate will be filled with Coco’s.

Here is a little more information:

Coco 2

The main item on the menu is curry, but there are almost limitless ways to have your curry. You can choose the curry sauce (that is to say the main ingredient of the curry sauce), and the spice level. The curry sauce is available in just about any meat, vegetable, or combination you can imagine and some I certainly hadn’t thought of (quail egg!). The spice starts at regular, then goes to a numbered system 1-10. You can also have a variety of add-ins. Each plate comes steaming hot with a half plate of rice and half a plate of curry. There are curry meals available for children also. They come with cute potato patties shaped like smiley faces.

Coco3

Besides curry there are side dish options. Their salads are great and they offer a good variety. The best part of the salad, in my opinion, is that it comes with a merry-go-round of dressing. Coco’s sesame dressing is one of the best and tastes wonderful on rice too. They have a few varieties of nan bread, as well as an extensive drink menu. There are a few other interesting things on the menu such as a potato hurricane, but we haven’t tried that yet!

Near the checkout at the Coco’s we’ve been to is a small chest freezer with various types of ice cream treats. They also have boxes of curry to take home or share with your friends and family.

According to the Coco’s website (www.ichibanya.co.jp/english) there are over 1,200 Coco’s restaurants. Most of them are in Japan, but there are some locations in Hawaii, China and a few other places. Approximately 5 of these are located on Okinawa. Here are directions to get to the three located near Kadena/Lester/Foster:

#1: Turn east off of 58 onto 23. Coco’s will be on the south side of 23, but you will have to make a U turn to get there. If you get to the express way entrance, you’ve gone too far.

#2: Located on 58, north of Kadena’s gate 1. It is on the west side of the road. Kadena actually has a gate 4 that is very close to this Coco’s, but alas, this gate is never open.

#3: Located on 58, just north of Foster’s commissary #5 gate. It is on the west side of the road.

Hours:  Coco’s are open from 10:00 a.m. until 3:00 a.m.

Payment: All Coco’s Curry shops on Okinawa take Yen. Individual locations may also accept American dollars and/or credit cards, but unless you’re sure this is the case, better bring local currency with you just in case.

38 COMMENTS

  1. I just went today to the one on 23 near Kadena Gate 2 and they did accept my card. As for the food, I ordered the beef curry and some naan bread. My friend and I were laughing at the picture on the menu of the beef curry, because it shows exactly 5 chunks of beef in the curry. Mine came with exactly one piece. The flavor of the curry was actually pretty tasty and the heat was just right (I asked for 3 and the server warned that beef is spicier than the others). It was hot enough but didn’t burn or make my eyes water. I will go back, because it was good and inexpensive, but I won’t get beef next time.

  2. The one on 23 near gate 2 does not take cards. Went there tonight based on the information from this website that cocos take cards. We had some cash and yen, but not enough. Luckily a family was nice enough to help us out with the amount we needed for the difference. Thank you to the strangers who did that. We are more than grateful and will pay it forward to someone else in the future.

    • Thanks for this update, and we’re sorry the information in this post was misleading – so lucky you were helped out! We’ve learned that while some establishments on Okinawa may take credit cards and/or American dollars, it’s always safest to carry Yen with us, just in case.

  3. I just wanted to let you all know that I was just in the Larger Coco Curry on 23 (closer to gate 1) and it looks like they have started accepting Credit Cards. I was able to use one today no problems. Not sure if this applies to all of them, but I wanted to share.

  4. Its good, Not the best curry. BUT I love coco’s. why? Well, I love that you can customize everything and anything. It’s great if you have picky kids, and a fatty appetite hubs. Lol

  5. I’m pretty sure it’s just the drive thrus. We pulled one out and got a look of confusion, but when we went inside to pay they took it with no problem.

  6. Can someone please tell me which ones take credit cards? It might just be the drive thrus but the one I went to doesn’t do cards.

  7. I liked it the first time, loved it the second time, but got sick of it after the twelfth time. My husband still loves it though, this is his #1 Dave place on island and eats there once a week. I’ve heard the naan bread is great but I’ve never had it. If I go back, I’ll just order some iced coffee and a salad, they have plenty of side items to choose from.

  8. Anyone know if their vegetable dishes are actually vegetarian?? (no meat/chicken/fish bases in the sauce or anything like that, 100% vegetarian)
    Thank you!!

  9. From the first time going to CoCo’s back in 1997 until I PCS’d in 1999 I was a faithful customer of CoCo’s atleast twice a week if not more! On rainy days and even through a divorce, CoCo’s was good to me!!
    When can you guys bring this chain to the state (the southeastern part of the states)!

  10. I like Coco’s, but it’s definitely not the best curry on island….but I have been quite a few times and will go more. The actual Indian restaurants have great curry though. And their lunch menus are usually a good deal. (Alibaba & Krishna, along with a a couple others are good) I never really tried curry until I met my lovely Indian friend here… now I love it. 😀

  11. There isn’t a website that you can buy Coco’s curry from, but the S&B Gold Curry is almost identicle and you can buy it from amazon.com or almost any asian market in the US. I’ve more or less got the toppings we like down, and I’ve figured out how to make their naan. When we go back home, it’ll be no problem to recreate Coco’s whenever I want it.

    IT SHOULD BE NOTED that the beef curry (1 box-or one serving size at the restaurant) has 1400 MG of sodium and almost 20 grams of fat! This is the healthiest meat-based curry available, and even the vegetable curry weighs in at 900+ mg of sodium per serving! That’s a lot of salt! Coco’s is a treat, but healthy eaters should remember that it is a -treat-. It’s just as bad as some fast food from back home. =)

  12. Since I can’t read Japanese, I have no idea if their website will allow you to buy the curry powder, and have it shipped back to the states. 🙁 Does anyone know of a website that has the CoCo’s curry that we can buy off of?

  13. Ohhh Coco’s…Its just delicious…I cant wait to go back to Okinawa and get to eat there again…When i Went there the first time i thought it was good, then i started craving Coco’s curry and yes, I had to take several Preg test since my husband tought i was pregnant.. but no, I was just in love with the delicious curry!!!

  14. @Jessica-

    I’m not sure what I would recommend, as I always do the curry, but we took my MIL (who claims to hate curry) there and she liked it enough to go twice during her visit! It’s probably very unlike any curry you’ve tried before-I encourage you to try it!

  15. I’ve never really liked curry, but everyone keeps telling me that I should try coco’s because it turns non-curry people into curry people. My husband has been dying to go because he’s into curry, but I’m still unsure. If we do end up going, what’s a good recommendation for someone such as myself that isn’t really looking forward to having curry? LOL.

  16. DSCC- I’m not sure where to get the dressing for personal use, but I do know that they usually serve it at stateside teppenyaki restaurants and sushi restaurants. So if you’re craving that yummy dressing, at least you can get a qucik fix!

  17. You just have to know the withdrawal symptoms to understand the addiction. Surprised that no one mentioned the salad dressings. The ginger is our favorite. Does anyone know how to get the salad dressing in the US or where to buy it over the internet?

  18. Back in the states if you have access to a commisary you can buy makings for a curry sauce in a box called “House Vermont style curry” and it is the closest thing we’ve found to CoCo’s. Also the white cheese they use is Montery Jack! ENJOY!!!

  19. O M G! I too, heart CoCo’s! We must eat there at least once a week! I swear the folks at the CoCos north of the Marina, recognize us and already know what we are going to order! lol! My husband treated me there for my birthday AND for Mother’s Day! It’s absolutely, hands down, my favorite fast food curry place on Okinawa! And it’s one of the places both of my kids like to eat at and can easily finish their food!

  20. I was SO excited to try Coco’s…and my food arrived, looked lovely, smelled oddly familiar and I opened my mouth to take that first bite and…

    Hey! Wait a minute! This is Skyline chili with rice instead of spaghetti noodles…and no ground beef! I’m from Cincinnati…and Skyline is a name that comes to mind whenever you mention Cincinnati. I never knew that this was a curry-based chili, but now I know! They even sell Skyline chili seasoning packets in Kroger’s/Ralph’s stores across the U.S.

    So maybe it’s not EXACTLY the same…but if you’re ever off Okinawa and finding yourself desperately missing Coco’s, I’ll bet some concoction could be created from a Skyline chili seasoning packet. Maybe I’ll have to keep looking to find my special Okinawan place…but Coco’s hits too close to home. On the positive side, whenever I get homesick, I can go to Coco’s. : )

  21. CoCos is my FAVORITE place to go eat!!

    I know the one by the Foster commissary gate only takes dollars or yen.

  22. I too am addicted! Before I PCS’d one of my co-workers told me that it was DELICIOUS. I was a little skeptical because I have a Jamaican aunt and her curry is the BEST!! But I must say Coco’s runs a very close 2nd. LOVE IT!!

  23. Not all Coco’s take credit cards. The on on 58 does not but I think the one on 23 does. It really depends on the location. It’s really just better to have cash on hand.

  24. Are you sure they take credit card? This may be new….I was there quite a long time ago, like at least 1 1/2 years ago, and I only had a credit card that they would not take? Ahhh, I was starting to sweat and luckily some lovely people came to my rescue and paid for my already eaten dinner! But, I just wanted to double check…..

  25. I wonder what drug they put in it to addict us so. I think everyone has the same experience. My first time, I went with my sponsor. I thought the food was different, decent, but remember saying, “I am glad I tried it once, but I dont think I would go back.” Boy was I wrong. I have experienced CoCo’s many many times. I still have a year left and will go back many more!

  26. The only thing I really dug there was their little glorious deep fried potato croquette. My goodness those things are good. For those who love this kind of curry, I highly recommend diving into all of the other varieties of curry that Okinawa has to offer. There are so many (a great deal of them already listed on okinawahai.com). I’m going to miss curry everywhere!

  27. Candice, funny you should say that, because I felt the same way about coco’s at first. It’s not that I didn’t like it, but I couldn’t see what the big fuss was about. Now it’s grown on me and even my kids enjoy eating there.

  28. I never thought coco’s was very good. It was ok, but not something I wanted to eat often. But after a few times, you really are hooked. I craved this place so much when we went back to the states. Its cheap too!

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here