CONTRIBUTED BY MELISSA RUISZ
Bama’s BBQ & Grill – formerly known as Nap’s Southern Grill – has two locations on Okinawa; it offers exceptional value, a relaxed, kid-friendly atmosphere, and best of all, down home Southern cookin’ that’s hard to find anywhere else on island.
If you’ve spent any time in the southern U.S., you probably recognize this phrase: “Sweet, or unsweet?” It’s the necessary follow up question when someone orders an iced tea. At Nap’s, the cold, delicious sweet tea is free, and served in large mason jar mugs. Our server was quick to pour refills once I guzzled mine down. Good thing, too–I could drink a gallon of this stuff in one sitting. Beer and fountain drinks are also available.
It’s worth sampling the appetizers, or rather, the “Nappetizers.” The Chili Cheese fries start with crispy waffle fries, then Texas chili, melted cheese, onion, and jalapeños are piled on. For something a bit more crunchy and filling, Nap’s Nachos are boss. These are not your average bowling alley nachos. A mound of tortilla chips is smothered in shredded cheddar, jalapeños, shredded lettuce, a choice of slow roasted pork, beef, or chicken, and then is drizzled in a creamy white sauce, similar to Ranch dressing. They’re meant for sharing, though it’s common to order them as an entrée.
As tempting as the Nappetizers are, many choose to start with the main course, with good reason– Nap’s likes to throw in lots of extras, like cornbread muffins and sides. (There are only so many notches in the belt, after all.) The menu has a good selection of Southern style chow–slabs of barbecue pork ribs, half pound and full pound burgers, and sandwiches with generous portions of blackened chicken breast, slow roasted beef or Alabama-style pulled pork. If that sounds like a lot of meat, Nap’s also offers wraps, which are perfect for lunch. The tasty Pork Slaw Down Wrap, for example, is a large tortilla filled with a smaller serving of pulled pork, barbecue sauce, sliced tomato and coleslaw.
You can doctor up these entrées even more with the different sauces on the table. There’s Original Barbecue, for the traditionalist; Yellow Thunder, a hot mustard; Sweet and Sassy, which is thick and dark like brown sugar; and Hot Stuff, a lighter, vinegary sauce with a little kick to the taste buds. Bottles of Texas Pete Hot Sauce, Tabasco, ketchup and mustard round out the condiments.
Most entrées come with a choice of one or two down home sides. Waffle fries and macaroni n’ cheese are popular, and Texas toast, onion rings, corn on the cob, beans, rice, coleslaw, and potato salad are also available. My favorite is the fried okra, because I’ve convinced myself that the veggie’s calcium is not lost in the process of breading and frying–they’re, um, semi-healthy. It’s fun to dip these little nuggets into the sauces, and I like to mix the Sweet & Sassy and Hot Stuff together for my own concoction.
If you’re not feeling the Southern food, there are also salads, pasta, and Japanese dishes, such as Yakisoba (fried noodles), Okazu (stir-fried veggies with pork and fried egg), and Katsudon (pork cutlet with onions, fried egg, rice, and sweet sauce). I tried the Mandarin Orange Chicken Salad. It was light, with seasoned chicken and a sweet poppy seed dressing, and left me enough room to split a mug full of strawberry smoothie for dessert, garnished with fresh strawberries, an orange slice, and a maraschino cherry.
Speaking of desserts, if somehow you’ve managed to leave room for them at the end of your meal, there are an assortment of cakes, sundaes, and pies, including banana cream, chocolate, and apple.
Did I mention children love Nap’s, too? As kids walk in, they can grab cups of crayons and drawings to color while they wait for food and the adults chit chat. Kids’ meals are all under $5.00, and come with an entrée, drink, waffle fries, veggies (usually corn), an orange slice, and a scoop of ice cream (chocolate, vanilla, or strawberry) for dessert. Kids can choose from a PB & J or grilled cheese sandwich, chicken nuggets, a hot dog, macaroni and cheese, or shrimp fried rice. And, it’s no biggie if they spill–the tables are covered with vinyl for easy clean up.
My hubbie joked, as he was about to pay the bill at the cashier stand (lunch for two plus dessert was around $20), that maybe they call it Nap’s because that’s what you feel like doing after eating there. Kind of like Thanksgiving. I’m sure Napoleon, the founder of Nap’s, would be amused.
Payment: Dollars, Debit, Credit
Mama’s BBQ& Grill – Camp Shields
Hours: Sunday, Tuesday, and Thursday: 11:00 am to 9:00 pm. Friday & Saturday: 11:00 am to 10:00 pm. Saturday & Sunday: Also open for breakfast from 8:00 to 11:00 am. Closed Mondays.
Directions: From Kadena Gate 3, continue on the same street, crossing 74. Follow the curving road for less than a mile. Veer toward the left just after the Stray Animal shelter and when you see the fence with a blue and white sign that reads: “Bee Quick Shoppette / & Box Office Video / Camp Shields.” Follow the road into Camp Shields. Nap’s will be on the right side, in the same building as the Crow’s Nest Club, across the street from the Camp Shields Chapel.
Nap’s Southern Grill Express (with limited menu) at the Touch & Go Cafeteria, Kadena Air Base, Building 3674.
Hours: Monday – Friday: 6:00 am to 10:00 pm. Weekends & Holidays: 6:00 am to 6:00 pm. Breakfast is 6:00 to 10:00 am.
Please note: a third location used to be open on White Beach, but has since closed.