Sata Andagi (Photo: Michael Ying)

Kiyoka Okinawan Restaurant

Try the Sokki-jiru at this cozy restaurant in Koenji

Sata Andagi (Photo: Michael Ying)
Michael Ying   - 3 min read

Small and cozy restaurants are the lifeblood of the everyday man here in Japan. The sights and smells of the Showa period and the presence of an owner who knows everyone's name is what can truly bring relaxation after a hard day's work. Kiyoka Okinawan Restaurant in Koenji is exactly this. It's a lovely little restaurant nestled in a tiny back alley of Koenji, Tokyo. 

Koenji is known for it's bohemian feel with thrift stores and fashion shops, and it's also home to the famous Awa Odori festival in the summer. It's no surprise that Kiyoka would be found in such a place, and the shop's tiny space is backed by wonderful flavor. Kiyoka serves both Sokki Soba (Okinawan soba with boneless porks ribs) and Sokki-Jiru (potatoes and vegetables with Okinawan pork), the latter being more of a rarity. They serve all the normal Okinawan recipes but present them in a way that a loving mother would serve her children. The Sata Andagi (Okinawan Donuts) are piled high on the counter top and the "Rafute" (braised pork) is left open for everyone to see. There are over ten different types of champuru to choose from, all of which are freshly cooked right in front of you. 

The store was opened 55 years ago as a lone shop run by one lady. Her son now owns the place and a different "Mama-San" runs the kitchen, but pretty much nothing has changed about the store over the years. They're now a part of a chain called "Dachibin" but the shop still maintains its small, independent roots.  

Above all else Kiyoka's best feature is the lovely woman who runs the shop. She greets all her regular customers by first name and saves their alcohol bottles for them (a local custom in Japan) and chats up a storm with everyone. It seemed as if most of the customers came just to see her, and even after visiting the shop a few times, she would lament when I would leave earlier than normal. It's this kind of genuine hospitality that is priceless in modern, bustling Tokyo, and when you combine that with great ambiance and terrific food, it definitely makes Kiyoka somewhere I will continue to eat again and again. 

Michael Ying

Michael Ying @michael.ying

Originally from San Francisco, I graduated from UC Berkeley in 2011 and have been living in Tokyo since 2014. I'm currently a photographer and dancer, and spend most of my free time finding new places to eat. I love it here in Tokyo! Insta: mikemisc