Obbligato's: Uruma

CONTRIBUTED BY KATIE CLARY

Obbligatos Front
Obbligatos Front

I remembered from my first stay on Okinawa that Mexican food is few and far between in Japan. Other than the numerous taco joints scattered around, the only authentic Mexican restaurant chain is Obbligato. They have several branches: one in Uruma, one on 58 between Kadena and Lester, an Oblee in Yomitan near Torii, and a new restaurant called the Tortilla Factory near Foster. I was very pleased when I found out that my apartment on Courtney was less than 5 minutes away from the Uruma store! Depending on where you live, you could even walk there on a nice day.

For as long as I can remember, I have been a huge fan of Mexican food. I’ve been fortunate to have spent most of my time stateside in Oklahoma and Illinois, both of which have very good, authentic Mexican food. That, combined with my fondness for good tequila, makes me a bit picky about Mexican restaurants.

I’ll be the first to admit that Obbligato is a little bit Japanesey at times. For example, most of the lunch menu items include an egg over easy, and some white rice. My friends and I all think that the salsa tastes a bit like marinara sauce, too. Their biggest faux pas (in my opinion) was the fact that their margaritas are made with whiskey, and not tequila. (Shenanigans!) But for the most part, the food is pretty good; probably my favorite Mexican food on Okinawa. 

Some dishes are more authentic than others, like the Enchiladas Mexicanas that I had for lunch today. The enchilada sauce is a bit milder than you would normally expect, but I like it, and the meat inside is well seasoned. This particular set cost ¥650, and includes two enchiladas, one ground beef and one shredded chicken; a choice of beans or mole; and Mexican rice.

Obbligatos Food
Obbligatos Food

They have a good variety of food to choose from, and all my favorite Mexican foods are included. They have chimichangas, tacos, taco rice, mole, carnitas, and a lot more. Everything is reasonably priced, too. Lunch items tend to cost ¥800 or so, and some of the bigger meals are a little pricier, but usually aren’t more than ¥1,200 or so.

Obbligato also sells their fresh, homemade flour tortillas at all of their locations. They come in packages of 6, and there are two sizes that I’ll call taco sized and burrito sized because I forgot the measurements. They are definitely more expensive than the El Paso brand at the commissary, but sometimes it’s nice to splurge on fresh stuff.

For take-out, you can phone your order in ahead.  The staff speaks very good English, and usually your order will be ready by the time you drive over there.

Website:  http://www.obbligato.co.jp/

Payment: Dollars and Yen

Locations:  

Uruma (Location mentioned above):
Directions: From Courtney, turn left onto Route 75. Obbligato will be on the right just past the first stop light at the Family Mart.
From McTureous, turn right onto Route 8. When you come to Route 75, turn left. Obbligato will be on the left.
Phone: 098-972-4220.
Hours: 11:00 am – 10:30 pm every day.

Oblee in Yomitan:
Directions:  From Torri, take a right on 6 out of the main gate. Follow the first signs that say “To 58” Obllee will be on the left side of the road.
From Kadena, take a right on 58 out of gate 1. At the light past McDonalds take a left. After you cross the bridge, Oblee will be on your right.
Phone: 098-956-7420
Hours: Mon-Fri: 10:00 am – 11:00 pm; Sat & Sun: 7:00 am – 11:00 pm
 

Chatan:
Directions: From Kadena, take a left on 58 out of gate 1. Obligato will be on your right before you reach American Village. 
From Foster or Lester, take a right on 58. Obligato will be on your left after you pass American Village. 
Phone: 098-926-1888
Hours: 11:00 am – midnight every day. 

32 COMMENTS

  1. I can’t speak to the Uruma location, but I have one word for the Chatan location: meh.
    We decided to give them a try because our usual taco joint (Charley’s near Gate 2) was closed and we didn’t want to drive all the way to Tacos Mexico or King Taco. Plus it was a family member’s last night and we wanted her to taste the awesomeness that are tacos here on island. We were pretty disappointed with It in general. Like another comment stated, the “salsa” was like spicy marinara. The crispy taco shells tasted store bought. The cheese dip was a small bowl of canned cheese. While we know Okinawa has a different take on Mexican, I still feel like we got gypped. The flour tortillas were great but that’s really all I can boast about it. They claim everything is homemade but I personally feel that the ONLY thing homemade was the flour tortillas. If you are looking for amazing tacos, look into a place like Charley’s or King Taco or Tacos Mexico or some other little “hole in the wall”. We wish we had.

  2. After being in the military for over 17 years and visiting 14 different countries I can tell you first hand outside of Texas or Southern California it is hard to find good Mexican Food. After trying several different places on island I can tell you that Obligatos is about as good as you are going to get if you can’t make it yourself. The most authentic item on the menu is the carnitas meal with chili pork. Everything on the menu has a Japanese spin to it (like the chimichangas that taste like ground beef egg rolls) but if you can’t cook it yourself this is the place to go.

  3. What most Americans think of as authentic Mexican is really a hybrid of southwest regional preferences tweaked to appeal to local clientele. In short, it is Americanized Mexican themed food. Because of the regional differences in Baja, Tex Mex, etc… there is no such thing as “Authentic Mexican” anywhere in the United States. There are some countries that have established a national standard for cultural dishes. For example, Thailand has a board of commerce which certifies and endorses food proprietors (with a specific seal) that adhere to the standards of what the Thai government have deemed “Authentic Thai Cuisine.” You will find the same standards in France and a few other countries but to my knowledge this is not the case with Mexican food. This being said, most of what you will get overseas is an interpretation of the original. I personally was not over the moon with the Obligato flavor palette but by no means took the establishment’s effort to provide Mexican food as a cultural slap in the face. If the service was bad then there is really no defense for that, especially in a culture known for having outstanding service without the need for a tip incentive. When I scan the comments section of a review I look for valid pros or cons from firsthand experience concerning service, food quality, or overall dining experience. When I see people slamming a place for not having enchiladas or nachos like their Granny’s then the credibility of the comment for me drops to zero.

  4. AWFUL! I’m from Los Angeles California and this place is a disgrace. I’ve had bad Mexican food from all over the U.S but this food shouldn’t even be considered Mexican food. I don’t know which is more horrendous, their food or their service. By far the worst experience I’ve ever had at any restaurant. I heard about this place from a friend who said it was “decent” but decent was far beyond generous. First off, the waitresses sat at the table beside us and were on their phones and acted as if we were an inconvenience. When ready to order, we had to call 3-4 times to get anyone’s attention. Once we placed our 3 orders we waited and these stale, bland and oil dripping chips with a very strange salsa arrived. It tasted like cheap marinara sauce or ketchup. Shortly after, my husbands plate was brought to the table. He ordered the carnitas and steak tacos which he described as bland, tough jerky. Then my friends plate arrived which was a strange variation of a quesadilla. It was a sloppy messy tortilla stuffed with dry chicken and topped with a greasy orange cheese, nothing that remotely resembled a quesadilla. 15 minutes into the meal my food still hadn’t arrived and my husband went to ask the servers the status. The waitress came to the table and had forgotten I had placed an order. Needless to say, I told her to forget about it and we left. NEVER AGAIN, do yourselves a favor and don’t even humor it or waste any money here.

  5. This place was suck a disappointment theire salsa wasnt even salsa it was canned tomato sauce. Crunchy tacos had no spices in it and tasted bland. Never again..

  6. Went to the one on 58 near Kadena gate 1 and it was very delicious! Being from southern CA, I’ve been spoiled with great Mexican food but was always disappointed eating it here in Oki. This place was surprisingly good! The food was very good, it tasted as the tortillas were made from scratch, not sure though. We’ll be back again

  7. If you are japanese looking for bland but colorful food, this is your place!

    You see, Japanese food often has very weak flavors so local taste buds are accustomed to this style. A slight amount of pepper to a local is spicy– but to someone from anywhere else in the world it is mild.

    Someone above me said that a TV dinner tastes better…. the frozen burrito I ate just now tasted better then the one I had at this place!

    The salsa TASTES LIKE SPAGHETTI SAUCE. I AM SERIOUS. I could not enjoy a single aspect of my meal….

    I ordered some chicken chili something and it was basically a few chunks of potato with a creamy-ish sauce and NO CHICKEN AT ALL. Seriously!! I really wanted to ask for a refund after trying a little of everything on my plate but I knew that it would have gotten me nowhere. My girlfriend who is a local national also stated that it looked great but tasted bland in every way. I was at the one near Courtney if that makes a difference.. I really wish I could get a refund for that meal as I feel terrible about spending $30 bucks on it.

    • To slam and stereotype an entire culture based off a less than satisfying experience at one eating establishment is irresponsible. I don’t suppose you’ve ever had wasabi? Or Coco Ichibanya; Tan Tan Ramen; salsa made at other Mexican themed eating establishments on island; or the several Thai, Nepalese, and Indian curry joints mentioned in other reviews? Although your frustration is understandable, the ethnocentric jibes are uncalled for. Okinawa is just as much a melting pot of cuisines and flavors as America, if not more so, since everything is concentrated in an area roughly 70 miles long and 7 miles wide. Imagine a foreigner judging the flavor palettes of all Americans based off of club foods on the bases and nothing more. Do you see what I’m getting at?

  8. Overall pretty good food. It was nice to have Mexican food for a change of pace, but not as good as when we lived in San Diego (kind of figured it would not compete). Service was good and you get a lot of food for a good price. We’ll be back for more!

  9. I’m a fan. Food is good and taste good too. Price is reasonable and food comes out quick. Pork is great in my opinion. It taste just like we do it back in Puerto Rico. I haven’t tried anything else in their menu but the carnita’s meal as I’m conscious of what I eat and its portions so everything else to me is too much. Granted it’s not as good as what some call “authentic” Mexican food back in the states but please realize that those authentic restaurants actually water down everything in the menu to accommodate the American palate. That is, not even close to spicy etc. If you want authentic then eat from those moms and pops restaurants or even from the roach coach trucks in some cities. But then again, watch what you eat.

  10. I’ve eaten at Obbligato’s several times and I’ve never had a bad experience. The food has always tasted good and the service was fine. So many people on this site complain about the restaurants here on Okinawa, but I cannot tell you how many times some of the same people say they can’t wait to get back to the States and eat at a good restaurant like Outback Steakhouse. If Outback Steakhouse is what the Americans here think is great food, then that explains a lot…

  11. Thanks for the comment, Mark. I,for one, LOVE your food. We were here from 2000-2003 and ate at your Chatan location many times. When we returned to the States we always said that if we ever got to come back to Okinawa, your restaurant would be one of our first stops. Well, we returned in 2010 and it was! We have since tried your Uruma location and Yomitan location since it is closest to us. We have been pleased with both. My husband’s fave is the Enchilada Plate, mine is the Quesadilla plate, 2 of my children order the Nachos, one orders the enchiladas and the baby gets the spaghetti which she is crazy about it (sorry about the mess she leaves!). Anyway, I do not consider myself an expert on Mexican food, but for yummy food and fast service, your restaurant works for us. My only suggestion would be to please make your Guacamole dip larger, as in maybe the size of a saucer. That goes for the cheese dip as well. Oh and if you decided to bottle and sell that AWESOME salad dressing, I swear I would be first in line to buy a ton of it!!

  12. …full disclosure, I run Obbligato so I`m it biggest fan.

    We`re Mexican and from Los Angeles. My family bought “Obbligato” and decided to keep the strange name. We don`t use cilantro (you can get it on the side), or a lot diced onions, and we keep everything on the mild end since our clientele is about 80% Japanese.

    To address some comments:
    1. I`m glad you like our service
    2. Our refried beans does not contain bacon fat. Only a little salt and garlic have been added. Primarily because we have vegetarian and many customers of various religions that cannot eat meat or pork. But bacon fat is key to good refried beans…
    3. Yes, that is rosemary in our Mexican Rice. My family has always made it that way.
    4. Our service is a little slower at Uruma because we use only one cook there. But its pretty blazing fast at Chatan and Yomitan considering we are a full service restaurant.
    5. We intentionally have not put a lot of effort into our alcohol (margarita) menu in order to curb heavy drinking. We want to keep the family atmosphere.
    6. Toritilla Factory definitely has the best burritos on island.
    7. Mike`s is very tasty. I`ve recommended them to my customers. I do need to try that new place in Okinawa City, DosManos. (I`m affiliated with neither.)
    8. Our Carnitas Meal has got to be the best value on island especially with our never ending homemade tortillas.
    9. There is nothing frozen or instant about our foods. We make all our sauces fresh, including our tortillas, our salad dressing, our sour cream, guacamole…. and on.
    10. I will look into the salsa. We used a verde salsa (cooked) since we opened because Okinawa could not always provide the freshest ingredient at an affordable price. I will look into introducing a cruda salsa sometime this year.

    • I love that you posted on here….

      Wow every reviewer is SO harsh! Other than Tortilla Factory, you can’t find better Mexican on island! People need to chill out… at least we have the option to go here rather than none at all.

      I really enjoy Obbligatos! We go regularly. I’ve had very authentic Mexican before and some of the dishes are really great in comparison. I especially LOVE the carnitas, tacos, and mexican rice (it’s tamer than states, but I thought it was yummy). I even love the taco rice, while not authentic to Mexico, it makes sense b/c we’re in Japan.

      My kids enjoy the menu options even though spaghetti nor scrambled eggs isn’t really Mexican. I’m just glad they can find something to eat while I enjoy my meal. 🙂 I appreciate that you guys keep books to entertain them while we wait too.

      Some things I would love to see improved:
      Table arrangement in Chatan area, the bench seats are too spaced out that both sides of the table are sitting on the edge of the seat to reach the table. It’s great when you are pregnant and usually can’t fit in a booth, but not good for little kids because they fall off the bench trying to reach the table.

      The salsa/red sauce. My friend had a burrito/chimichanga or something the other day and it taste like it was coated in marinara/spaghetti sauce. I understand Japanese like milder tastes…. maybe you guys can come up with a spicier authentic salsa as another option? Doesn’t hurt to have 2 flavors to choose from. The mild for Japanese and the authentic for Americans? Just a thought. 🙂

      I would LOVE LOVE LOVE if you guys could make an authentic white cheese sauce queso! I would eat there every day if you guys had this! 🙂

      • I’m from South Texas and there is nothing “Mexican” about this place…..my Mexican grandmother would say “que cochino” and walk out! It’s gross and I’ll stick my homemade carne asasda, fajitas and real enchiladas. Real salsa is made from fresh tomatoes….NOT Prego sauce. Also, Melted white velveeta cheese is TRULY NOT “authentic white cheese sauce queso”……AND not even close to authentic queso flamaedo. Smh at some people’s cultural ignorance!

  13. I have been numerous times and while I have to say most items on the menu are somewhat dissapointing I LOVE their carnitas, forget the refried beans with anything and do yourself a faver and opt for the pork chili sauce.

  14. my husband tried the one on 58 years ago and swore never to go back, but while driving around in uruma i challenged him to give things a chance! so to oblige me (such a swell guy- i think i’ll keep him) he turned the car around and we went in.

    the decor was charming and we were quickly seated. it took some work to get our orders taken, but the girls were busy serving a large (loud) party of americans and a few okinawan families. the wait for our food was a little long, but i harassed him into tolerance. im not picky at all and i enjoyed my food. for all my husband’s critiquing, he ate his, too. he said we might go back, if for nothing more than the cheap beer.

    but yes, if you want some yummy food, try mike’s tex-mex. their chips and salsa are delicious and the frozen margaritas are very tasty (especially the strawberry!)

  15. Mexican on Okinawa? Forget it… Who eats something called Taco Rice is not very versed in authenic Mexican Food.. That place is a run down attempt of Mexican Food. Buy some Taco Shells, ground beef, picanti, shredded cheese, tomatos and the works from commisary and there you have some close Mexican Food, LOL….

    • The phrase “authentic Mexican food” is getting thrown a lot in these reviews and though it’s been a while since I last ate at an Obbligato’s I do seem to remember the owner having courteously placed placards on each dining table basically giving a disclaimer why he had to switch to Japanese rice as opposed to long grain rice to satisfy his Japanese clientele and so on. I don’t remember ever reading on the outside of the building, advertisements, or menus that Obbligato’s was purporting to be an “authentic Mexican food” establishment either. Nor have I ever seen any place on island serving Taco Rice up as an “authentic Mexican food”. The inventor of Taco Rice lives in Kin and is very proud of the fact he invented it. You should look it up. And on a side note, I think we Americans need to tread carefully when slamming other cultures for not interpreting “authentic Mexican food” as we have stateside. The land of Taco Bell, Carlos O’Kelly’s, taquitos, nachos, and breakfast burritos. Not even Mexicans from Mexico recognize the majority of what we deem “authentic Mexican food”.

  16. Been on Oki a month now and tried this place to satisfy a craving for Mexican food. Despite the great service I have to say the food was terrible next time i crave Mexican food I’ll try making it at home 🙁

  17. We thought this place was very disappointing too. The two of use spent about $50 on what tasted no better than frozen tv dinners. None of it tasted fresh, and the salsa was odd.

  18. I am Hispanic and I am extremely critical of Hispanic dishes especially Mexican dishes. Depending on what you order your visit to Obbligatto’s can be satisfying or disappointing. Obbligatto’s is mediocre at best but there are far worse places to eat at in the States. I don’t go out of my way to eat here unless I am with friends. Outside of that I will stick to cooking my own food which will likely taste ten times better.

  19. I did not care for this place either. We LOVE the cheese dip at Mexican restaurants, and the cheese dip here was, truthfully, not fit to eat. I ordered chimichangas, and they were nothing like what you would typically get at a Stateside Mexican restaurant. The people were extremely friendly, but the food was not good so we won’t go back.

  20. Like the above two posters, I was disappointed as well. I love Mexican rice, and theirs was not good at all. Tasted like they cooked it with a bunch of rosemary or something!!! And yes the salsa taste was off:). We have not gone back. We make our margaritas at home haha

  21. Vee and I are once again in agreement. Try Mike’s Vee, it might not be authentic, but the chips and salsa are made fresh, and certainly soothes that itch i get every now and again.

  22. Personally I was disappointed with Oblligatos… Granted this is the only Mexican restaurant in Okinawa, it was neither authentic or good. I went once and will never go again..

    • There are two others that I know of on Route 81. One is called the Tortilla Factory, their menu is centered around burritos. In my opinion they make the best burritos on island. To get detailed directions just search for it on here. I do not remember the name of the other restuarant but it is the first one you will see on the left side of the road if you are driving down Route 81 from Route 58.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here