Captain Kangaroo popular with tourists and locals for good reason
By AYA ICHIHASHI | Stars and Stripes | Published: December 5, 2019
Imagine a juicy meat patty blanketed by warm melted cheese, topped with delicious guacamole, crispy lettuce and a tangy tomato slice. Ladle over it a spoonful of chili sauce and sandwich it all nicely in a chewy, toasty sesame-seed bun.
Welcome to Captain Kangaroo in Nago, Okinawa, about an hour’s drive north on the Okinawa Expressway from Camp Foster and Kadena Air Base.
The diner is popular — I mean really popular — and attracts locals, service members and tourists from around the world. I usually avoid going there during the busy touristy seasons such as summer, spring break, Golden Week or any local national holiday and weekends.
At peak lunchtime, expect to wait one to two hours, sometimes longer.
My suggestion is to get there around 10:45 a.m. to beat the lunchtime crowds, or simply place a to-go order over the phone and eat on the seawall behind the restaurant.
I have been coming to this burger diner for at least seven years, and its quality has not diminished; I think it’s getting even better. Every time I have the first bite of my usual order, the Mexican Taco Burger (900 yen, or about $8.30), it tastes as good as the very first time.
So far I have tried the classic Roo’s Special Burger, a beef patty, lettuce, cheese, tomato and special sauce for 800 yen; the BBQ burger (800 yen); Japanese Chicken Burger (800 yen); and the Great Teriyaki Burger (800 yen); but I always come back to my usual.
Captain Kangaroo’s meat is one of a kind. It’s almost like finely chopped steak tips. The garlic and onion seasoning, black pepper and other secret spices add the perfect flavor. And the patty is cooked perfectly; it’s not at all dry or chewy.
Even the lettuce is perfect — it’s kept in ice-cold water to maintain crispness. The guacamole and sour cream add some sweetness and mildness to the delicious patty, and the chili sauce is made with ground meat and kidney beans. I could not ask for a better burger.
Lastly, and most importantly, they toast their specially ordered buns until the sesame seeds get nicely brown, adding a nutty flavor to the whole creation.
If you see a 10-inch-tall burger at the restaurant, that’s the Sparky Burger (1,000 yen), Captain Kangaroo’s social media star. Fans post their efforts to conquer this Mount Everest of the burger world.
The Sparky comes with 5-inch-tall, thin strips of fried onion beautifully piled up like an art piece atop a juicy beef patty, lettuce, tomato, BBQ sauce and crispy bacon. I have never tried the burger because of its size, but I dare you to.
Location: Umusa 183, Nago City Okinawa 905-0006
Hours: 11 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. (They sell out quite often. Get there early)
Prices: Majority of burgers cost between 800 yen to 1,000 yen.
Directions: From Camp Foster, take the Okinawa Expressway and exit at Kyoda IC (No. 10). Stay on Route 58 to the Miyasato 3-Chome intersection then turn left onto Route 449. Drive a little over a half-mile. Captain Kangaroo is on the left.
Parking: There is a big parking space across the street from the restaurant. Several more slots are available in back and in front.
Information: 0980-54-3698; Online: roo-bar.jp