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Wednesday, 25 October 2017

Naha Part 2: Kokusaidori

Kokusaidori (国際通り) is a roughly 1.6 km street in Naha city that is full of shops (around 600, according to this site), restaurants, hotels, and more! If you're looking for souvenirs or a place to eat/stay, this is where you should go.

My sister and I spent quite a bit of time here and managed to go to a few places, such as:

Tida Beach Parlour
I first heard about Tida Beach Parlour from Okinawa Clip, and the drinks looked so good that this was the first place I visited once I landed. Tida Beach Parlour is located right next to Makishi station - there's a park opposite the Lawson next to the station and the shop is along the park. 

The shopfront is pink so it should be pretty easy to find.

The inside of the shop is adorable! The drinks are actually just a small part of it - the shop sells shoes, jewellery, and much more.

While waiting for my mango smoothie, I found out that these tiles are from Arab street in Singapore!

And my drink! It was sweet, cold, and I love that the mango taste was really strong.

Plus the straw is shaped like a heart.

If you're looking for something delicious to drink that also looks cute, this is definitely something to consider.

Makishi Public Market
Makishi was a place that my sister found and wanted to go to. It's located just off the middle of Kokusaidori, and it would probably be easier to find the place if you have access to Google Maps or another map app (or a regular map).

One of the smaller roads we walked to the market
The first floor of the market is where the fish, meat, vegetables, and other items are sold. The restaurants are on the second floor, and several of them allow you to buy the ingredients at the first floor and have them cooked at the restaurant on the second floor for a small fee. My sister and I visited twice and we went to two different shops.

This is the first shop we went to and most of the staff seemed to be from Taiwan and could speak Japanese, Chinese and English. The menu's available in all three languages too.

Where we sat:

We ordered three dishes that night. The first was sashimi, which was pretty good.

The second was lobster, which wasn't as fresh as the sashimi.

The third was a huge bowl of crab soup (too big for the both of us), which was pretty nice. But as with the lobster, the crab wasn't the freshest.

On another day, we went to the market for lunch and ate at this store.

I had the pork rice bowl, which came with soup. The pork was delicious and I really enjoyed this!

My sister had the sashimi set meal and she loved it too! The sashimi was really fresh and the portion was quite generous - in fact, she couldn't finish everything. I can't quite remember the prices, but I remember that this was quite reasonable.

Pork Tamago Onigiri and other shops
There are tons of other shops outside Makishi market. Apart from omiyage shops, there is also a place called Pork Tamago Onigiri (the original shop). This was recommended to me by a friend and it was really delicious! 

I went in the morning and the queue was insane!

There is actually a store at Naha airport (domestic terminal, first floor), so if you don't like queues, you may prefer to get an onigiri at the airport instead. I ate at both this main shop and the airport shop and the onigiri was equally delicious in both places.

One bright side of the queue as that I managed to make friends with the people around me!

The onigiri in the photo is the pork, egg, and tofu onigiri with miso paste. It sounds like a weird combination but it is really good. I also tried the mentaiko version (pork, egg, and mentaiko) and that was just as delicious too! So if you like onigiri, you may want to get several here, or come a few times. 

If onigiri isn't your thing, there are tons of other shops nearby, like this shop selling fishcakes! I like the fishcakes with cheese inside (this shop is located next to the Sagawa taqbin shop)

There's also this tempura shop that also sells Sata Andagi (Okinawan doughnuts) for 60 yen each.

You can buy Sata Andagi pretty much anywhere on Okinawa. It's basically a fried ball of sweet dough, and I think it'd go well with tea (or coffee, if you drink coffee).

KOI Bubble Tea

KOI is (was?) really popular in Singapore and I was so surprised to see it here in Okinawa! Apparently, KOI is only available in Okinawa, so if you're like me and miss a taste of home, then you might want to grab a cup when you're here.

Of course, there are Okinawa-only flavours, such as the Mango Oolong tea that I got.

I really enjoyed the drink and the bubbles! I remember that when I first came to Japan, Stella and I jumped at anything that sold a bubble-tea like drink (which is how I found out about Moomin's drinks). The mango oolong is really sweet, so you might want to consider getting the version with less sugar in it.

Marvel Exhibition at Ryubo
Most of the things that my sister and I did at Kokusaidori revolve around food, but we also went to the Marvel: Age of Heroes exhibition at Ryubo department store (sadly, this is a temporary exhibition).

Tickets cost 1000 yen per person and unfortunately, most of the exhibition was off-limits for photography.

While the exhibition was rather small, I was very impressed with how much it covered. The exhibition went through the history of Marvel and introduces a few famous superheroes. Apart from pictures, there were also video interviews and life-sized exhibits of the costumes used in the movies!

The only photo spot
I was also very impressed with the amount of English support. Almost all the text, apart from the titles, were translated and my sister could understand everything.

The gift shop had quite a lot of limited-edition items too, although our luggages were full by this point so we didn't pick up anything.

Although I got a sweet chocolate berry waffle from the food basement downstairs


And we're back to food (for the last section)! As of November 2017, there aren't any A&W stores in Singapore and there haven't been for many years. Although I heard that they're coming back to Singapore next year, I still wanted a root beer float.

There are shops all around Okinawa, but the shop in Kokusaidori is pretty convenient to get to.

They even have a corner that sells merchandise although I'm not that big of a fan.

Sadly, the root beer float didn't come in a glass mug. But the taste was the same as what I remembered. The mozzarella cheese burger was really good too!

According to the tour guide, root beer can be really polarising. Apparently some people find the taste medicinal, although it's something that I don't understand.

Wait, does this make root beer the durian of Okinawa? 

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