Okinawan cuisine may sound unfamiliar to you, even if you could be a Japanese food fan.
So my advice is, do not go to this Okinawan restaurant at Liang Court expecting sashimi, sushi, ramen and katsu don. The food is really quite unexpected.
As Okinawa is an island, the diet of its people comprises mainly of fish, tofu and seaweed which are low-fat and low-salt in nature. An interesting fact is that this small island has the record number of centenarians, and is known to be the healthiest place on earth.
While I do not think Nirai Kanai Okinwan Restaurant’s authentic Okinawan cuisine such as the peanut tofu and pork belly will provide me with longevity, there are quite many surprises.
There is a rather rustic feel and ‘village-like’ ambience in the restaurant, and this is reflected in the dishes as well.
Its several noodle dishes, such as cold noodle in sesame sauce ($13.60) and fried noodle in vegetable sauce ($13.60), do not have the fanciful aesthetic presentation as what it would have in other Japanese restaurants.
Refreshing, though not spectacular. It tastes very close to how the Chinese would have cooked their noodles, with a lighter approach both in terms of ingredients and seasoning.
Its Teppanyaki-style Japanese beef hamburger steak set meal ($18.70++) is a thick slab of juicy succulent patty served with aosa seaweed soup and other side dishes.
My overall favourite dish of the day was the grilled seasoned chicken thing with miso ($12.00++), evenly grilled and not too heavily seasoned so that you can still savour the flavours of the meat.
The winning note here was really its ambience, decked up with a 1970s Okinawan décor with sounds of traditional Okinawan tunes.
Service was uneven. My table was completely ignored during the first visit, while the second was a more pleasant experience with a real Japanese staff.
There is a saying that Okinawan cuisine “begins with pig and ends with pig”, and pork dishes will be my definite choice the next time.
Nirai Kanai Okinawan Restaurant
177 River Valley Road, #B1-01/02 Liang Court Shopping Centre, Singapore (Clarke Quay MRT), Tel: +65 6339 4811
Opening Hours: 12pm-3pm, 6pm-11pm (Mon-Fri), 12pm-11pm (Sat-Sun)