All-beef patties and a simple menu make Ralph’s Burger Restaurant a standout on Okinawa
By AYA ICHIHASHI | Stars and Stripes | Published: January 31, 2019
Over the years, some women have felt reluctant to openly express their love for so-called “manly” food like hamburgers and steaks — but thankfully, the rising trend of high-protein diets and weightlifting routines created specifically for women means that burger lovers like myself no longer have to hide our appreciation for all things meaty.
On Okinawa, there are a variety of restaurants residents can flock to whenever a craving for red meat strikes. But Ralph’s Burger Restaurant, which opened in early 2018, is now my go-to local spot for those times when I need a burger fix.
Right away, diners know Ralph’s isn’t a typical Okinawa restaurant. The building exterior is decorated in stylish ranch motif, like something you’d see in small-town Texas, while the interior has a trendy vibe with concrete walls and dark wood furniture. The decor sets the tone for the meal to come — and keeps the restaurant nice and cool.
Once inside, patrons order and pay at the counter before taking their seats in the dining area. Ralph’s menu is straightforward, with just six burgers to choose from: A hamburger (860 yen, or about $8.00); a cheeseburger (970 yen); a double cheeseburger (1,290 yen); an avocado cheeseburger (1,080 yen); a bacon and egg burger (1,080 yen); and a lamb burger (1,190 yen). All are served with french fries.
Ralph’s uses burger buns that are baked fresh daily at the restaurant using locally grown wheat from Ie Island.
The restaurant also takes pride in its burger patties, which are made of 100 percent beef and do not use fillers such as bread crumbs, which are often used at other burger restaurants in Japan.
I ordered the avocado cheeseburger with a side of onion rings (380 yen) and a soda (220 yen).
The onion rings were brought out as a starter. I am a big fan of onion rings and am very picky about how they are prepared. Ralph’s did not disappoint. The onion rings were fried to a perfect golden brown, and the batter was nice and even, not too thick or thin. The onions weren’t soggy or raw, but rather sweet with a nice texture.
The onion rings set a high bar for Ralph’s, and I was pleased to find that the burger also lived up to my expectations.
When the staff delivered my avocado cheeseburger to the table, I couldn’t help but smile — not just because I was happy to eat my burger, but because the burger was served with a fried potato in the shape of a smiley face. The burger featured fresh lettuce, a thick-cut tomato, grilled onion and a generous serving of avocado.
While the burger was so big that it was difficult to take my first bite, I noticed immediately how tasty the bun was. It was grilled perfectly and slightly crisp on the edges, which paired nicely with the charbroiled and juicy beef patty. Ralph’s special mayonnaise sauce provided the perfect finishing touch and wasn’t too overpowering.
Ralph’s also offers take-out orders, in case you want to enjoy your burger from the comfort of your own home.
Inside the restaurant, a quote from Bob Marley adorns the wall: “Love the life you live, live the life you love.” But, based upon my experience at Ralph’s Burger Restaurant, I think another quote might be more fitting: “Eat the burger you love, love the burger you eat.”
Ralph's Burger Restaurant
Location: 1 Chome-2-28 Sonoda, Okinawa 904-0022
Directions: From the Camp Foster Legion Gate, turn left onto Route 330 toward Koza Music Town and drive for about 5 km. Ralph’s Burger Restaurant is on the right side of the road across from the Hotto Motto. The restaurant does not have its own parking lot, but coin parking is available nearby.
Hours: Open from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Closed Thursdays. The restaurant will often close early if the burgers sell out.
Cost: Prices rage from 860 yen (or about $8) for a basic hamburger to 1,290 yen for a double cheeseburger. Toppings can be added for an additional fee. Soft drinks are 220 yen with the purchase of any burger. Sides such as onion rings and spicy fried potatoes (380 yen each) are available.