Okinawan Restaurant Nirai-Kanai

Tucked away in the basement of Liang Court is this little Okinawan diner. In case you’re wondering, Okinawan food is pretty different from generic Japanese fare. Loads of pork is used, and many of the dishes are stir‑fried. The instant we walked into the place, we were charmed. The interior was small and rustic—think wooden tables with backless stools, little Japanese fixtures and a salon‑like vibe—reminiscent of an old tavern or inn. It was a refreshing change from the usual kind of Japanese décor. The equally rustic menu was in Japanese along with some English descriptions and loads of pictures. We found that the sets were of excellent value, so we ordered two of them: One set comprised a side of egg, chicken and bittergourd; a small bowl of seaweed soup; stewed pork belly and peanut tofu; while the other comprised flat noodles in a simple soup; rice with various ingredients sprinkled on it; peanut tofu and an Okinawan donut. Everything was yummy—the sashimi was fresh; the stewed pork belly came with soft layers of melt‑in‑your‑mouth fat; the peanut tofu was sweet and smooth; the flavored rice was fragrant; the noodles were well‑textured, and the Okinawan donut was crispy with ice‑cream inside. Only the bittergourd was somewhat unexceptional. We even ordered an additional appetizer—small rectangles of smooth, bland tofu topped adorably with baby salted fish, which we also loved. We wanted more dessert, but had to pass as we were stuffed. With such great food, affordable prices and discreet service, we’d definitely return for more Okinawan grub.