MASAHIRO Okinawa Gin Aroma × HOT DOG with herbs is a perfect combination
Just a short walk from Makishi Station on Okinawa’s only railroad, Yui Rail, 13 TRECE is located along the Asato River. Open from 12:00 noon to 4:00 a.m. the next morning, it is a convenient place to stop by not only for lunch or a cafe, but also for a drink after work, a meeting before dinner, or a for a night cap after a long night of drinking. For this interview, I spoke with Norikazu Ishikawa, the most experienced of the three staff members working at 13 TRECE.
−What does the name of the store mean?
T R E C E is the Spanish word for the number “13”. The store’s address is 1-1-3 Asato, Naha City, so it was named after the number 13.
−What made you decide to open the store?
The owner, who is originally from Okinawa and had been in Tokyo for a while, thought that it would be nice if there was a bar where locals could casually stop by when they came back to Okinawa. He found this place by accident when he first started looking for a place to live. At the time, half of the store was a clothing store, and the store owner asked me if I wanted to do something with him. So, I decided to open a bar here. When it first opened, it was a bar where you could enjoy both shopping and drinking. That store closed about four years ago, so now the entire area is 13 T R E C E.
−What kind of bar is this? What are the guests like?
It is a bar where people from all walks of life can interact with each other. The customers who come here range in age from young to old, and their occupations vary widely. But when people meet here, they all somehow become friends and leave happily.
−You are open from 12:00 to 4:00 in the morning, how do most of your customers spend their time?
In the afternoon and evening, there are people who want to relax, and on holidays, there are people who want to drink. In the evening, many people come to enjoy a drink with a light snack, or for a stop along their bar hopping night.
−Because of its location, there must be a lot of tourists?
As more and more restaurants are closed due to the Corona Virus, tourists sometimes drop by at night when the lights are still on. But in fact, most of the visitors are locals, especially the regulars.
-What made you start working at 13 TRECE?
It opened in 2015, and at first the owner was running the store alone. Then I joined. The owner and I had always known each other. At the time, I was working in a completely different field, but he asked me if I wanted to work with him. We currently have three staff members, who work in shifts. I oversee lunch. At first, I had to work the night shift, which was very difficult. I had been working during the day until then, so I guess I suddenly became a night owl and lost my rhythm. There were more opportunities to drink with customers, and I had to drink more than before… I was not in perfect physical condition at times. But it was fun to drink with customers, so it wasn’t all disadvantages.
−What is the most popular menu item at your restaurant?
The most popular food item is the hot dog. The sausages are thick with herbs kneaded into them, making them very satisfying to eat. The secret is to fry the sausages slowly over low heat using an iron frying pan, and the bread is carefully cooked so that the edges are crispy, and the inside is fluffy. We have a wide variety of alcoholic beverages, from Awamori to Shochu, liqueur, tequila, beer, wine, and more.
−Reason behind Masahiro Okinawan Gin
Masahiro Okinawan Gin had been talked about since it was first released, so I knew of its existence. I had never drunk it before, but a friend of mine recommended it to me, so I thought, “I’ll try it in the store.”
−How did you like the taste of it?
First, the bottle is cool, isn’t it? It’s made by Awamori brewery , so even though it’s gin, it has an Awamori feel to it. I don’t usually drink much Awamori, but I thought that Masahiro Okinawan Gin was delicious. It is easy to drink, so even people who don’t like Awamori will find it delicious. I would like to recommend it to people outside the prefecture as well.
−What is the recommended way to drink Masahiro Okinawan Gin?
I personally think it is delicious to put 45ml of Masahiro Okinawa Gin in a glass, squeeze a lime, and pour tonic water and soda over it. For those who like it sweet, I serve it with more tonic water, and conversely, for those who like it less sweet, I serve it with a higher ratio of soda.
−13 T R E C E’s recommended dishes to go with Masahiro Okinawan Gin
The hot dog! Masahiro Okinawa Gin contains refreshing ingredients such as Shikwasa, juniper berries, and piperch, so it goes well with meat-based hotdogs.
−What is the recommended way to drink if you want to enjoy it at home?
The easiest way to drink it is with soda. If you squeeze some citrus or shikwasa into it, it will taste even better. If you don’t have any citrus fruits, you can use Pokka lemon.
−At home, what kind of food do you think would be good to pair with Masahiro Okinawa Gin drinks?
I think it goes well with meat-based dishes that are not too heavy. Chicken steak, for example.
−What are the future goals of 13 T R E C E?
To keep going for now… Even if there are other developments, the owner and I have discussed that this is our base. I would also like to hold more events in the future. Up until now, we have held music events, invited our restaurant friends to make tacos, Okinawa soba noodles, and so on, and all of them have been very successful. We would like to continue to come up with new plans and hold events that our customers can enjoy.
−Mr. Ishikawa, what spots in Okinawa do you recommend?
I was born and raised in Okinawa, but now that I am an adult, I have a new appreciation for Okinawa. It is easy to live in, and I now understand the feelings of tourists who say they “love Okinawa.” Naha has its “own charm”, the central part has its own charm, the northern part has its “own charm”, and all of Okinawa has its “”. If you come to Okinawa as a tourist, I would like you to see everything from North to South.
13 T R E C E Address：Asato Uehara Building 101, 1-1-3 Asato, Naha City, Okinawa Prefecture Telephone：098-800-1245 Operation Hours：12:00〜 4:00am Days closed vart.
Photo &text：Sachiko Tachi English translated : Tom Harwood
Enjoy a lovely citrus aroma from Masahiro Okinawa Gin × PLENTY OF MEAT BBQ”
All located within the 660 square meter area “MARINX HARBOUR” has a marine store, cafe, apparel store, BBQ terrace, hair salon, and grind pool, it is a place you can stay and have fun with day-to-day activities that local Okinawan’s love. For this interview, we spoke with Yukihiro Oshiro, the facility manager. Mr. Oshiro is a licensed beautician, diver, PADI dive master, and EFR certified, making him an all-around talented person. Sometimes he even stands in a cafe.
−Please tell us the concept behind MARINX HARBOR.
The subtitle of our company (MARINX Co., Ltd.) is “Okinawan Lifestyle Project”, and we aim to create a facility that communicates the charms of Okinawa. I hope that I can help people who come to Okinawa spend their days feeling as glamorous and happy as possible… We strive to create a facility where you can experience all the beauty of Okinawa.
−How did you start your business?
It started in 2019 as a relocation and reopening from Nanjo City, right next door, to Minatogawa, Yaese-cho. We had been operating in Nanjo City for about six years. At that time, our main businesses were marine services and hair salons, but when we moved here, we made it possible for people to experience a variety of things in the facility, including lodging, restaurants, hair salons, marine services, BBQ terrace, swimming pool, and skate park.
−Why Yaese Town?
When you think of tourist spots in Okinawa, you probably have a strong image of the west coast, such as Onnamura and Chatan. We decided on this location because we wanted to promote the charms of areas that are still not so well known. I know many people go to Kerama for diving and snorkeling, but there are still places on the main island of Okinawa that are not well known. I wanted to discover the charms of these local areas and share them with people.
−What is the appeal of Yaese Town?
MARINX HARBOR is in an area called Minatogawa, which is a 20-to-30-minute drive from Naha. Just taking a walk there makes you feel relaxed.
It takes about 25 minutes by ferry (about 15 minutes by high-speed boat) from Azama Port in Nanjo City to Kudaka Island, which is said to be the Island of God, and we have a boat at a nearby fishing port. The time varies a bit depending on the strait, but it takes about 30-40 minutes to get there. It’s a cruising tour where you land on Kudaka Island, take a walk, and come back. I think we can start this summer
−How do most people use this facility?
After enjoying marine activities such as diving and swimming, many people come to the salon to have a head spa or enjoy a BBQ. Many guests from outside the prefecture and those who live in the northern part of the main island of Okinawa also stay here and enjoy our facilities.
−What room types are available?
There are eight rooms in two patterns: dormitory type and twin room. The dormitory type rooms have bunk beds. The rooms are tight, but we have made them so that you can experience the feeling of traveling around in a van. The twin room has an ocean view. The room is white and clean, with a semi-double bed allowing you to have a comfortable stay.
−Are the salons, cafes, and activities open to non-guests?
Yes, they are. Many people use it that way. In addition to the hair salon (by appointment only) and the BBQ terrace (please make reservation 3 days in advance), those who place one order at the cafe can use the pool (from summer until the end of October) and showers for free. The pool is drained and becomes a skating bowl in the winter.
−Who are the majority of guests?
We are gradually gaining recognition from tourists. People who live in the prefecture also come to our cafe. People who live in the northern part of the prefecture or Naha also stop by and use the café on a leisurely drive or enjoy a BBQ with their families.
−Please tell us why you decided to add Masahiro Okinawa Gin to your menu.
Although Masahiro Shuzo has been producing Awamori in Okinawa for over 100 years, they have newly started producing Gin. I find this very impressive and further boasts the culture of Okinawa. I also share the same passion to promote this region of Japan.
−What was your impression when you finally drank it?
I thought it was refreshing and easy to drink, with a citrusy aroma. Even if you don’t like Awamori, you might enjoy drinking Masahiro Okinawa Gin.
−What is the best way to enjoy it at home?
Like an Awamori highball, with a refreshing taste of Masahiro Okinawa Gin mixed with soda water and a squeeze of Shikwasa. It goes well with sashimi and fish dishes.
−This time, MARINX HARBOR will be serving Masahiro Okinawa Gin with the a BBQ, is it a good match?
A gin and tonic based cocktail would go well with our BBQ. A bit of lime or Shikwasa makes it even more refreshing and gulp able.
−What kind of BBQ is available here?
The set includes 80g of the finest grain beef loin steak, 80g of beef fillet, 80g of pork loin, 50g of herb chicken, seasonal vegetables, bone-in flank, and two whimsical ingredients for 2,750 yen (table charge and drinks are extra). I wanted people to be able to taste a variety of meats. The whimsical ingredients tend to be seafood and mushrooms, but it really depends on the whim of the moment… The BBQ terrace is available for a minimum of two people. Please make Reservation 3 days in advance. Due to its popularity during the summer season, early reservation is recommended for larger groups.
−Goals for the future?
This facility is still not well known, but I believe that the possibilities are endless. I’d like to promote it more so that people can enjoy the facility to the fullest, and I’d like to share information not only about MARINX HARBOR, but also about “Okinawa” as a whole.
−Please tell us about your recommended favorite spots.
I like Giza Banta, which is about a 15-minute drive from here, I go there from time to time. The view of the natural cliffs is powerful, and you stare at the Pacific Ocean from there. I’m often asked by customers for a recommendation, so I often guide them to Giza Banta.
Photo&text：Sachiko Tachi English translated : Tom Harwood
Masahiro Okinawa Gin × Ryukyu Mexican “Borrachos”
Borrachos, located on Paradise Street, one street away from Kokusai Street, will celebrate its 10th year anniversary in August 2021. The food served at Borrachos is authentic Mexican cuisine. Incorporating Okinawan ingredients such as seasonal Okinawan vegetables, prefectural tuna, island octopus, and island chili peppers, the menu offers a variety of unique dishes that are different from other Mexican restaurants. The unique style of the restaurant, “Okinawa x Mexico” = “Ryukyu Mexican Restaurant,” has been well received and the number of regular customers has been steadily increasing.
Borrachos, which means “drunkard” in Spanish, is the perfect place for a fun night out with a group of people.
Inside the store, miscellaneous goods purchased directly from Mexico decorate the space, creating an exotic atmosphere. The walls are painted with pictures of skeleton, and the background music is cheerful, improving your mood just by being in the store.
The second store is in Sangenjaya, Tokyo, and a third store opened in Hiroshima in 2016. This time, we talked to Shota Oshiro, the manager of Borrachos in Okinawa (the main store), about various topics.
−Please tell us how and why you opened the store.
The representative (Ushio Setoguchi) worked at a Mexican restaurant for 10 years about 12 years ago. After that, he opened a bar in Aoyama, but he had a strong passion for Mexican food, so he decided to try his luck in Okinawa, a place surrounded by beautiful nature and warm-hearted people. He was living in Tokyo at the time, so he consulted with friends and acquaintances who lived in Okinawa. After that it was no brainer.
−How did the representative (Ushio Setoguchi) and Mr. Oshiro meet?
We frequently went to the same bar and became friends as we ran into each other a few times, which led me to work as a staff member. Ushio is now working as a store producer and construction manager. We are renovating our store using small items purchased in Mexico and old materials from the US (for example, wood from an old church that was dismantled). The first store is PIPELINE COFFEE, a Mexican cafe on Pipeline Street in Ginowan, which is the sister store of Borrachos.
-Please tell us about the concept of Borrachos.
The concept of the restaurant is “Ryukyu x Mexican,” and it offers authentic Mexican cuisine using Okinawan ingredients. It’s a good mix of Okinawan and Mexican food.
−What are the items available on the menu?
The “ceviche” made with island chili peppers is very popular. Ceviche is a seafood marinade dish from Latin America, and at Borrachos, fresh white fish from the market is marinated with lemon.
The menu includes a hearty “Seafood Fajita” with prefectural tuna, plump maned red shrimp and slices of squid, “Tacos” with homemade corn tortillas, and the classic Mexican dishes “Cactus, Shrimp and Avocado Salad” and “Buffalo Chicken Wings”.
Mexican pickles” made from seasonal Okinawan vegetables such as bitter melon and beets, “Eringi” mushrooms, and cactus are also recommended as appetizers. The cactus is imported straight from Mexico.
How about “taco rice” or “Mexican Soba” with Okinawa soba noodles to finish it all off?
−How did you come up with the menu?
The chef at Borrachos in Tokyo used to work at the Mexican embassy, so I incorporated his ideas, and I also asked a Mexican chef friend of mine to share his recipes with me. I think the number of items on the menu is quite large, from small snacks to desserts.
−What sort of customers do you have？
The restaurant opens at 5:00 p.m., but in the early hours, there are many Americans working at the base that visit. Then the number of local customers starts to increase, and after 24:00 it’s usually the regulars.
–What sort of alcoholic beverages do you offer at Borrachos?
Mexican cocktails with Mexican beer, beer cocktails, rum, gin, vodka, whiskey, wine and tequila… Awamori is also available.
−You also serve craft gin from Masahiro Shuzo, right? Why did you decide to add it to the menu?
Masahiro Okinawa Gin was recommended to me by a friend of mine, and I decided to add it to the menu. There is also the fact that craft gin is very popular, and the president of Masahiro Shuzo is a classmate of mine from elementary and junior high school…that’s another reason. Masahiro’s craft gin is displayed at the counter, many tourists are also interested in it.
−What is Masahiro Okinawa Gin’s appeal?
I thought it was interesting that they used materials from the prefecture, such as “piparch” spice and roselle. Maybe it’s because it’s based on Awamori, but it’s heavier and spicier than Tanqueray or Bombay. I like the gusto of it.
−Do you have any cocktails that use Masahiro Okinawa Gin?
There is “Passion Gin and Tonic” that’s only when passion fruit is available, so I think it will be available from June to August.
Passion Gin and Tonic is a cocktail made with fresh passion fruit pulp and lime. Add a little 100% passion fruit juice to Masahiro Okinawa Gin and tonic. Finally, it is topped with passion fruit pulp. This drink has a rich aroma, a good balance of sweet and sourness, and you can enjoy the petite texture of passion fruit.
−Can you recommend a menu item for Borrachos to pair with Masahiro Okinawa Gin?
How about “Camarones Al Jinn”? It is essentially served on the menu as “Camarones al Tequila”. It’s fried shrimp with tequila. Instead of tequila, I used Masahiro Okinawa Gin.
I let the pan real hot and fry the head shrimp, then season with lime and salt. After that, I add more gin and fry them quickly.
The spicy, smoky flavor unique to Masahiro Okinawa Gin and the sourness of the lime intertwine with the flavor of the shrimp, and it’s delicious. Masahiro Okinawa Gin contains multiple spices, making it more potent and spicier than tequila.
I think carnitas would also go well. This is a taco made of prefectural “soki” (pork spareribs) and “mimiga” (Okinawan pig’s ears) confit (cooked in oil) and is a staple of Mexican food stalls. The soki and “mimiga” are cooked for about six hours with oranges, celery, onions, carrots, and chili peppers. When you eat it, squeeze a lime over it. Gin and lime go well together. It is more refreshing than it looks, and you can also enjoy the crunchy texture of “mimiga”, which is highly recommended.
−If you were to enjoy Masahiro Okinawa Gin at home, what kind of food do you think would go well with it?
If you drink it with carbonated water, it goes well with pickles and carpaccio. On the rocks, it goes well with fish tempura and tuna sashimi.
-Borrachos’ future goals
I would like to set up an independence support system and develop more sister stores and franchise stores in Okinawa. I think an izakaya is next.
−What spots would you recommend to tourists, Mr. Oshiro?
If you are in Naha, I think it would be interesting to walk around eating and drinking. If you are outside of Naha, you can play in the ocean. But I don’t go into the sea. I like to drink alcohol while looking at the ocean（laughing）. My friends around me do surfing and diving. It only takes 20 to 30 minutes from Naha to the beach by car, so if you come here as a tourist, please find your favorite beach.
Address：1-3-31 Makishi, Naha City, Okinawa Prefecture Taihei Building 1F
Business Hours：Mon～Thurs 17:00～3:00am, Fri/Sat 17:00～5:00am、Sundays and Holidays 17:00～2:00am
Closed Dates vary.
Photo & text：Sachiko Tachi English translated : Tom Harwood