One of the best parts about being stationed in Okinawa is the level of exposure to local cuisine. The Okinawan fare tends to be a Chinese-Japanese fusion, much like the architecture. The sushi is no exception.
One of the main selling points of the apartment we chose was it’s proximity to one of the best sushi restaurants on Okinawa. It is a five-second walk to Sushi Bar Yoshi Hachi. It’s run by a polite and outgoing man named Yoshi Maekawa.
A native of Okinawa, Yoshi also owned a restaurant in Los Angeles for a while and hosted many famous people.
Since returning to Okinawa over twenty years ago, Yoshi has embraced the American military community whole-heartedly, and the proximity of his place to two of the larger installations has been a boon to business: most of his clientle are Americans. The Americans have embraced him back. Yoshi has hosted the rank-and-file alongside several Commandants of the Marine Corps, and also has a picture of himself with Peter Pace.
The interior of the restaurant has pictures of all of Yoshi’s famous customers, as well as a few more obscure ones, and some of the random bits of decor common in eateries around the world. His staff rotates like other restaurants, but a few have been there long enough to get to know Jon-San pretty well. There was a server named Tatsu working there for a while that knew me so well, all I had to do was stick my head in the door and give him a thumbs up, and my order would be ready in 30 minutes. Akemi is another staff member I’m fond of. She barely speaks English, but I’m pretty sure she’s the nicest lady on the planet.
The first time I ate at Yoshi Hachi, Yoshi warned me to come early to avoid the crowd. When I told him that my wife hadn’t arrived in Oki yet, and that I planned on eating there every day, he warned me that she would be mad at me for spending so much money eating out. Sure enough, once my non-sushi-loving family arrived, my sushi intake was drastically reduced. Over the last few years I’ve managed to get them to go with me a few times, and they have now found stuff they will eat. I’m still the most adventurous eater here, but my daughter has been brave about trying the things I eat. Escargot and basashi are two of the more daring things we have tried, neither of which are served in Yoshi’s place.
Another topic of discussion on my first visit was the proper way to eat sashimi. Yoshi explained how to add seaweed and mint to the fish before dipping it into soy sauce. Prior to this I’d just eaten the fish chunks. I like his way better.