Sam’s By The Sea

CONTRIBUTED BY MARIANN

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Food2       Sams tiki guy
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When I asked the hub yesterday where he wanted to go for his final dinner before deployment, he quickly answered Sam’s By The Sea. For New Year’s, we went to the Rose Garden (little Italian joint on 330) and had run into the owner and he was swell… Ranted and raved about his cooks, his bakers (who bake all their breads from scratch), and his 12 restaurants that he owned. He was a sweet ‘ol guy. Got us thinking about his other restaurants we wanted to visit… including Sam’s. So the hub’s last dinner was the perfect opportunity to try a nice expensive restaurant. It took us about 30 minutes to get to from Yomitan. And, boy, was it worth the trip! Unfortunately, I didn’t grab my camera on the way out the door.
When we found it, the tiki torches were blazing. We pulled into the gravel lot where the giant tiki statue and the Duke stood guard. Getting out of the car, we could hear the birds squawaking, which of course we had to go and see. They’ve got two beautiful parrots (i think they were parrots) in the back near the patio. Then near the front door they had a cockatoo (maybe? with a sign that said “this bird bites” so keep those fingers away!)
Upon entering, we were greeted by a welcoming staff dressed in sailor uniforms (so adorable). Now, since I had no camera, you’ll have to close your eyes and imagine… Hawaiian music playing (just a little too loud), a dark room with wood walls, rattan chairs, brass oil lamps on the tables, fishing nets and a boat hanging from the ceiling, shells and masks adorn the walls. There’s also a huge iron soup pot that apparently took years to scavenge and build in the 70s, filled with the day’s piping hot soup (ours was curry).
Of course, the hub ordered the surf n turf with Maine lobster. The kids really enjoyed it when the waitress brought over the beautiful blue lobster and it stuck out its arms and gigantic claws to let us view our meal. The meal came with soup, salad with choice of dressing, rice or bread, and vegetables (corn on cob and mix of seasonal veggies). And the filet melted in the hub’s mouth. I ordered a prime rib with king crab legs. The rib was delicious as well as the crab legs. The kids split a chicken kids meal, which came with an entire serving of shrimp-stuffed-chicken, fries, veggies, salad, soup, bread or rice, and a drink, and dessert, which was a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream served in an actual shell (if you order before 630pm). It was more than enough food for both my 3 and 5 year old. For dessert, we ordered a piece of their Mile High Coconut Pie. It literally stood off of the plate 8 inches and had the most divine crust. Oh, and I had a coupon out of the Okinawa Living magazine for a free shrimp cocktail with each dinner entree, so we had two of those also. Also the hub got a beer and a coffee. (wow- are we pigs or what!?) The only thing I’d say negative (about the whole experience) is that the crab legs I believe had been previously frozen, as they were a little on the dry side. The food, the staff, and the service were superb.
Our total bill was around Y13000. I wouldn’t go there every day just because of the price, but a great special-occasion dinner kind of place! Oh- and one more thing that I wish i’d thought of when paying… their yen rate was 98Y to the dollar, which is 7Y more than the normal rate for today, which means that if I’d paid with dollars instead of Yen, I’d have saved about 7Y per dollar, which would have been around $9. Which is a pretty good discount if you ask me. So check to see which money is cheaper to pay with for the day.
Payment: Yen and credit cards

Hours: Open:  5 p.m. – midnight.  (Last order at 11 p.m.)

Phone: 098-937-3421
Address: 1 Chome-41-15 Awase
Google Maps Coordinates: 26.3203176, 127.84094430000005
Directions: In Awase. Drive down Kadena Gate 2 Street, pass over the 85, continue to the end near the water and follow to the left. Take a left at the end and the restaurant’s on the right. Big boat and tiki torches. Can’t miss it.

57 COMMENTS

  1. Being here over a decade I have been to this Sam’s many times and probably will many more (albeit only for going aways / social events), but on my last visit I witnessed one of the mid-level manager ladies (not their umpteen “trainees” or the head honcho dudes in suits) knock over the wooden bowl of croutons (which, let’s be honest…they are already quite stingy with to begin with–only 3!) which landed perfectly upside down on the floor (this is near the kitchen). She proceeded to get a subordinate to sweep them up, but then she refilled that same bowl…WITHOUT washing it much less even wiping the rim of it–the same rim that had been touching that gross floor. In plain sight mind you. I “get” things happen in restaurants..all restaurants, but to me this was GROSS and only made the place–which cooks a mediocre steak to barely specification to begin with–seem even dingier than it already is. You’ll still find me eating there though, the kids can’t get enough of the drink mugs, the wife of the seafood, and me of the curry soap (I’d probably eat a crouton off the floor too, to be honest)…but just know that what I witnessed seems to be their standard there.

  2. Food is always amazing, service is great, the view is ok, not the greatest on island but let’s be honest it’s about the food. Steak, fish, lobster, curry, salad! Seriously best meal I have ever had been to 27 different states and 4 continents no joke. I even lived Texas for 5 years no steak compares. Amazing! Going there in a month can’t wait!

  3. I lived in Okinawa during the late ’70’s, at that time there was a small island publication and it actually printed the recipe for the East Indian Curry soup. I still make it, it’s as good as I remember.

  4. I’ve lived here for years and eat out more then not.. This is the BEST restaurant on island. Curry soup is amazing! Cheesesticks with pineapple doing sauce is delicious! Everything there I’ve tried is wonderful! Ciopinno, paella, steak/lobster, Mahi, etc, all highly recommended. Ps: must try the macadamia cheesecake. I guarantee its one of the best cheesecakes you’ve ever had! So rich! My fave thing there 🙂

  5. Ate here tonight with hubby. Great service, fun atmosphere and nice view! Food was good and drinks strong (mine not hubby’s). Best thing we ordered was the steak delmonico!

  6. Go out the Legion Gate (also known as the Shoppette Gate or the Taco Bell Gate). Stay straight on this road through the 330 intersection, the 329 intersection, past the entrance to the Comprehensive Park on your left, through a tunnel or two and then through an intersection with a Lawson on your left. At either the first or second intersection after the one with the Lawson, you will need to turn right (THERE WILL BE AN AU CELL PHONE STORE ON THE CORNER ON THE RIGHT HAND SIDE). Once you turn right at the AU store, continue to the end near the water and follow to the left. Take a left at the end and the restaurant’s on the right. There’s usually signs leading the way once you turn off the main road. Have a great time!

  7. Hi i just want to know if somebody can give me directions to this place. from foster. dummy directions please. I just made a reservation for april 1 my hubby bday and i have not idea how to get there.

  8. Another very positive note: At Sam’s I ask to substitute a second salad for the rice and bread, and broccoli and cauliflower but no corn or potato. The staff is always accommodating, efficient, and very pleasant.

  9. Sam’s By The Sea is a very good restaurant. May I suggest the seared tuna sashimi and the escargot appetizers. They are both fabulous. The curry pea soup is outstanding. In my opinion, the swordfish is the best I have ever had and have great difficulty ordering anything else when I go to Sam’s. Enjoy!

  10. Great date place. The food and service is really good. We love the old school charm & style to the Sam’s restaurant chain. This one is a bit more fancy and Sam’s Anchor Inn is a little more casual. I had the steak and lobster…good stuff! The drinks are good and come in these cool glasses. The usually give you coupons after you dine there to keep you coming back.

  11. Just came back from Okinawa. Went to Sam’s by the Sea. Loved the curry soup. Have been trying to find the recipe. Can any one help?

  12. Wow, my now exwife and I used to go there at least once a month, but we were on the island for 6 years. First time I went there was in 1995.

  13. We were stationed in Okinawa, Japan, twice, and Sam’s was our absolute favorite restaurant; not just on the Island, but in the whole entire world! In fact, next year is our 25th wedding anniversary and we’re planning on coming to Okinawa, just to go to Sam’s! (Well, ok, maybe we’ll visit some old friends, too, lol.)

    • Hey ole snorkle buddy Ed Prentice … lets get some homemade tea and go night snorkling and grab us some lobsters, parrot fish and “taco”! We are all fine and may be going back in 2013… Lord willing… All is great, and yes…. Sams was our favorite dining for special occasions. Bring a coupon for free shrimp cocktail, I think I like playing with the dry ice more that eating the shrimp… and that huge mountain of meringue covered in coconut lemon pie! I always wondered what that was… Miss you all and Oki… dan and lori call us and ask about Okinawa anytime… 817 243 6895 in dallas tx.

  14. We love Sam’s…We have gone to Sam’s anchor Inn and Sam’s by the Sea..both were yummy and delicious…It’s a lil pricey but well worth it…Sam’s by the Sea is a lil on the romantic side…but Anchor Inn is fun for the kidos…Have a blast and enjoy your grub on….:)

  15. We love Sam’s by the Sea! We have always received top notch service and are consistently impressed with our meals. The curry soup and blue cheese salad dressing are amazing as well as the fun, tropical drinks. Going there feels like going on a vacation.

  16. I haven’t been to Sam’s yet but my husband and I are thinking about going for a date night. Or is there somewhere else on island that is better??

  17. My Family and I ate at Sam’s Cafe (outside the Legion gate) last night as a New Years Eve treat.

    I was excited when we first got there because the atmosphere was nice with 50 music streaming through the restaurant. Then they brought my son a drink in a skull cup and he was really excited about that. The soup was especially yummy.

    At this point, being new to the island, my husband and I looked at eachother and said, “I think we found OUR place…”

    And then dinner came. I did not care for the food: I ordered Lasagna which was…sweet & runny, not cheesy. My husband and son ordered the ribs…again, sweet not bbq sauce-y. Even the italian dressing on my salad was (you guessed it) sweet.

    We left after paying the almost 80.00 check and then went home to OUR place…where I made dinner.

    We definitely won’t be back.

  18. Our family loves Sam’s. We go there once every couple of months and haven’t had a bad meal yet.

    I’ve never had any service complaints-I find it is like every other off-base restaurant-you are attended to when necessary without excess hovering.

    We typically bring our preschooler and toddler with us (we go early to avoid the date night crowds) and they are always very accommodating.

    I’ve never ordered a regular steak, but have ordered the fillet Mignon a few times-delicious. I am super-picky about steak-if it’s cooked more than medium-rare, it’s no good. Sam’s fillet Mignon is fantastic.

    Price is pretty comparable to many other off-base restaurants as well. The portions are extremely generous-in fact,we share our two meals with our children (and they bring the children their own soup!) and still have plenty to eat.

  19. Sam’s by the Sea is definitely overrated. I have been only twice while on island and I do not have to go back before I leave. I ate at the AWASE location both times; went 2x to be fair. Maybe I ordered wrong both times but my swordfish was dry and my red snapper under cooked. The bread was soft the first time and hard the second time. I will say the fried shrimp and cheese sticks were good. My children nibbled on their plates but were pleased with their skull mugs:)The service was ok like the atmosphere and the food. Looking back, I may have been to excited because of the hype around the restaurant and my expectations were too high.

  20. I’d have to agree with Cherie, maybe Im spoiled but I did not not enjoy Sams. The steak was not very good, I make a better one at home. Also Im a huge dessert person, if I go out for a nice dinner I always make sure to leave room and the offerings here where not good. It was very disappointing because one thing I have noticed being here was that the restaurants always have a great dessert, better than stateside too as far as Im concerned. Also you have to specify if you want alcohol in your dink, hello Im out with my husband to have a good time of course I want the booze in my drink Im ordering because its on the ALCOHOL side of the menu. The only good thing I do have to say is that the soup was delicious.

  21. Not sure why this place is so popular. Wasn’t that great it was nasty. Steak tasted rotten and old. Lobster was chewy and fishy. The service is neither good nor bad, it was just nonexistent. Was a over priced restaurant for mediocre food. Maybe I am just spoiled from eating at restaurants in Southern California where their quality of food and service is much better.

  22. I have had really good luck copying the Sam’s curry soup recipe using Cream of chicken soup with lots of curry powder—start of with a little and add to it till you think its good enough. Of course croutons help too.

  23. Wonderful place! Last ate there in 1975!!!
    Semper Fi Matcu 66 1974-75 Sgt. Jerry L. Portwood. Gonna save some yen and make it back for dinner.

  24. Wow! Just Googled “Sam’s By the Sea” and there it was. We lived on “The Rock” from 83 to 87. Wish we could turn the clock back. We dined at Sam’s frequently and always loved it. Food was always great, prices good, service excellent! I’m happy things haven’t changed. I’ll be dreaming about Oki tonight knowing that Sam’s is still there. It’s a treasure, so enjoy it.

  25. I’m in the process of trying out soup recipes online to copy it. Once I get one that fits I’ll post it! Until then, I’m almost positive that the base is plain old cream of chicken soup if anyone wants to try with me to copy it!:)

  26. Hi, guys. I came across this site as I was searching for the recipe for Sam’s curry soup. It’s been about 5 years since I left Oki and I still dream about that soup and their shrimp cocktail and prawns! I absolutely loved the restaurant when I was there (sorry, no pictures). I live in Virginia Beach now and I still haven’t found seafood that tastes as fresh as it did there! ANYWAY, if anyone ever finds that curry soup recipe…or one that’s similar, PLEASE let me know. Otherwise, I may have to take a trip to Oki on my own dime just to eat it again!

  27. We left Okinawa 19 years ago. Glad to see that Sam is still there. Do they still serve the corn bisque and does anyone have that recipe?

  28. We just ate at Sam’s a couple weeks back and my husband and I loved it. Our steaks were awesome and when the bill came, we were pleasantly surprised that even with a few drinks it was less than we were expecting.

  29. After being on the island for a year we finally tried Sams by the Sea (Awase). It’s a fun place to take the family with Hawaiian theme music playing and a view of the water. The food was tastey and the service was excellent. It is a bit pricey…Y15000 for 2 adults & 3 kids.

  30. I’m going to be honest. I don’t care for Sam’s by the Sea. I thought the food was good, but it was nothing to write home about. I also felt the portions weren’t big enough and those two things considered it was neither worth the drive, nor the $120 price tag for dinner for two. I’ve also eaten at Sam’s Cafe (by the Foster Legion Gate) and though it’s much cheaper, I was still not impressed.

    If you want steak, I highly recommend Four Seasons instead. The food is yummy and their Mai Tai, which comes inside a pineapple, is amazing. Dinner for two ranges from $40-$100 depending on what you order. Plus you can fit 10 of your closest friends around the table with you!

  31. I don’t think anyone was saying that all babies are screamers, just that you might not wish to take a child that is screaming into this particular restaurant, or any restaurant for that matter, in my opinion. It’s just common courtesy to others.

  32. I don’t understand why some people correlate the word “baby” with “screaming”. Not ALL babies scream when they are out in public places. My children go where I go.

  33. Thanks guys. Both of my children are actually great in settings like this so I’m not that worried about their behavior but wanted to make sure that it was a child friendly establishment. We tend to snub our noses at places that aren’t. We like to do things as a family as we don’t have that much time together as it is so they go everywhere we go. I think in 3.5 years we’ve only had to take one of them outside once when she didn’t feel well so I guess we’re very lucky in that arena:)!

  34. We’ve been to Sams several times. It is definitely a special occasion place due to the price. We love it and will continue to go there. Love the soup and croutons. My daughter is 8 and a big eater and orders the steak off the kids menu and has plenty of food. Two complaints…it’s way too dark, I like to see what I’m eating. And the chairs are horribly uncomfortable. Other than that it’s all good. Last time we were there as we were leaving Tom Arnold was walking in with the USO crew.

    I will say that if I’m eating there and I hear a crying child I would be extremely annoyed. If you have children that small that could cause a disturbance get a sitter and have a date night.

  35. We were the only ones in there at the time with children. The staff was very nice to my kids. Very nice. They even gave both of them a bowl of that awesome soup, even though I only ordered one kids meal. But… not to brag, BUT… if you know anyone who knows my kids, they’ll tell you how well behaved they are (most of the time). I don’t know if i’d bring in a screaming baby, as it is kinda expensive and so anyone in there is probably really trying to enjoy their meal. =) if you’ve got pretty good kids… i’d say… bring ’em along!

  36. Hey Suzy, when I went (just hubby and I as it was a parents night out) there was a couple with a baby and a toddler there (in the booth across from us). They apologized as they left since I guess they thought their kids were disturbing everyone. We told them no probs (we had kids that young once throwing croutons all over Olive Garden and the likes!!!). There was another couple and their little girl was crying a lot, they were also apologetic to everyone said that their daughter was scared of all the masks and hanging things like puff fish! I would never mind kids, it’s not like it’s the ritz or something, but you know how people can be and everyone has a different agenda. If your kid gets really out of hand, take them outside for a while but if they are pretty much behaving and just being a kid and you get ‘looks’, you could always empty you shisa dog filled cup of pineapple juice over the lookers head! LOL (joke!). Just my pennies worth on my one time experience there (they must accept kids since they supply highchairs LOL)

  37. Question…I’ve been dying to try this place out but everyone has told me that it’s not kid friendly (or more so, toddler friendly). Is this true? I see that you took your 3 & 5 yr old. Did you get “looks”? Please tell me you didn’t! I want to go and take the entire family, baby and all:)!

  38. WOW! I’ve always seen the ad’s for this place but never talked to someone who ate there. After three weeks of involuntary vegan diet, this steak is making my mouth water! It’s worth a million bucks to me! Thanks for the info, can’t wait to give it a try. And you can bet I’ll get one of those little skull and scorpian drinks, too! 😉

  39. Yeah, that curry was well good. I’ve only been there once. Someone’s got to have that recipe. I think they were discussing it on Japan Update once, but no recipe…
    And you’re right MA, that music was slightly too loud!!!

  40. I wish they would divulge the recipe for that awesome curry soup. I’ve asked; they told me it was a secret. Anyone have a similar recipe they are willing to share?

  41. I LOVE Sam’s. It is expensive but a nice place to go and relax without our children!! Oh, and those yummy drinks with the fun cups?? Makes it that much better!!

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