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Okinawan version of American food

Following the end in 1945 of the fierce Battle of Okinawa, the only World War II ground battle fought in Japan, Okinawa was under U.S. military administration for 27 years until its reversion to Japan on May 15, 1972.

 

During the Vietnam War, U.S. bases in Okinawa, which were transit points for U.S. soldiers leaving for the war, were filled with extraordinary energy, and a large number of American products were brought to the island, which was struggling with poverty after the war. Numerous Okinawans were working at restaurants on U.S. bases and at American-style bars, lounges and live houses scattered throughout the island. In such a setting, many exotic dishes became a part of Okinawa’s already unique food culture. A popular Okinawan dish known as taco rice — taco meat on a bed of rice — was first served at a restaurant whose customers were mostly U.S. soldiers, as a meal for the staff. Due to its unique international character, Okinawa is home to a great many American-style restaurants, including steakhouses, taco shops and hamburger stands. Some restaurants and bars still display the “A” permit, which adds to an old-time ambience reminiscent of the days of U.S. administration. Located in the neighborhood of U.S. bases, Gate 2 Street and BC Street (Park Avenue Street) in Okinawa City, Kin and the Henoko area in Nago offer a lively nightlife. The places are filled with U.S. military personnel, especially on weekends and U.S. holidays.

 

Taco rice

 

The “A” permit

The “A” permit used to be issued to U.S. military-authorized establishments in Okinawa before reversion to Japan. The “A” of its name was derived from the first letter of “approved,” and approved establishments were obligated to display the sign on the building exterior. This permit system was abolished on April 15, 1972, immediately before the handover of Okinawa to Japan. Some restaurants and bars still display the sign to draw the attention of tourists.

 

C-Lunch

C-Lunch is a complete meal that reflects the unique aspect of Okinawa’s history and culture that emerged under the U.S. administration. C-Lunch is available at almost all the former “A” permit restaurants and steakhouses that have been in operation since Okinawa was under U.S. rule. Despite its name, C-Lunch is a regular menu item that can be ordered at any time of day. The meal usually consists of generous servings of hamburger, pork cutlet, fried foods, rice, salad and soup. C-Lunch is usually reasonably priced, ranging from 450 yen to 650 yen.

 

 

A-Lunch

Along with C-Lunch, A-Lunch and B-Lunch are indispensable items for many Okinawan locals. A-Lunch and B-Lunch are slightly higher in price and served with even more generous portions than C-Lunch. Sharing is recommended unless you are a really big eater. It is said that these set meals were modeled after the one-dish meals that used to be served at US military canteens. Once considered a luxury food, A-Lunch was divided into three categories, A, B and C, from the most expensive to the cheapest. Even today these set meals retain their popularity at local eateries, with some places offering creative versions designed for health-conscious people.

 

 

>>> Former “A-sign” restaurant 

 

 


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