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In Okinawa, let Makan Makan’s all-you-can-eat dim sum transport you to China

Sichuan-style mapo tofu is an extremely popular Chinese food dish in Japan, which consists of tofu and minced meat in a spicy sauce.

AYA ICHIHASHI/STARS AND STRIPES

By AYA ICHIHASHI | Stars and Stripes | Published: September 7, 2018

As an exchange student in 1998 in Oklahoma City, my host family’s weekend ritual involved attending Sunday mass, followed by a large dim sum brunch. Dim sum, a popular style of Chinese cuisine composed of bite-sized dishes, remained one of my favorite meals when I entered college and moved into my own place.

I decided to relive my dim sum-eating days with a visit to Makan Makan — a dim sum restaurant located inside the upscale Coco Garden Resort in Okinawa’s Uruma City.

My companions and I were immediately drawn to the restaurant’s beautiful location, which offers panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean alongside the hotel’s lush garden and pool. Makan Makan’s interior decor is equally appealing, featuring gorgeous Asian wood furniture and Okinawan Ryukyu glassware on every table.

Makan Makan offers an all-you-can-eat dining plan, which varies in price depending on the time of day and day of the week. Lunch plans start at 2,500 yen for adults (or about $23.50) and 1,250 for children, while dinner plans start at 3,800 yen for adults and 1,900 for children. The restaurant serves a small selection of specialty dishes during both the lunch and dinner services — but, due to their limited availability, guests are allowed just one order per person of these items.

In addition to the dim sum menu, the all-you-can-eat plan also includes access to the restaurant’s salad bar, a selection of noodle and rice porridge dishes, and a drink bar stocked with a wide variety of Chinese teas. My favorite of the teas was the lychee tea — which smelled like traditional Darjeeling tea, but tasted like sweet lychee fruit.

Makan Makan offers more than 23 types of dim sum on its menu, so guests should be sure to come hungry and willing to sample a wide variety of dishes.

Shrimp lovers have plenty to choose from on the dim sum menu. The Royal Garden Prawns, one of the restaurant’s special limited dishes, are deep fried in butter and served with house mayonnaise sauce. These prawns are large, tasty and are a far cry from the smaller prawns usually found at cheaper Chinese restaurants. The Tender Prawns Simmered in Chili Sauce are prepared with Sichuan chili spice and have just the right amount of kick and flavor, while the shrimp cheong fun — a traditional steamed rice noodle crepe — are perfectly delicate and flavorful.

Makan Makan also serves xiaolongbao — a wildly popular Chinese dish more commonly referred to as “soup dumplings.” Xiaolongbao are stuffed with a mixture of meat and gelatinized broth that transforms into hot, delicious soup when the dumplings are steamed. Although these particular xiaolongbao were a bit messy, they still tasted delicious.

During my lunch visit, other special dishes available included sauteed scallops and fried oysters served with a traditional Chinese black bean sauce. The scallops were moist and seasoned to perfection, while the surprisingly large fried oysters remained juicy despite a crisp coating on the outside. The black bean sauce added to the flavorful dish.

My dining companions and I also opted for some of the non-dim sum dishes on the menu — including fried rice and Sichuan-style mapo tofu, a sweet-yet-spicy mixture of minced meat and tofu that’s famous for being one of the most popular Chinese dishes in Japan.

For dessert, I went for mango pudding and mango shaved ice. Both were a refreshing end to a delicious meal.

Despite my long history as a dim sum aficionado, Makan Makan exceeded my expectations. Even my Taiwanese and Chinese friends were impressed with the quality and flavor of the restaurant’s cuisine. Our only mistake was ordering too many sides, as it prevented us from trying more of the dim sum.

After dining at Makan Makan, guests can relax in the many hammocks located throughout the hotel’s gardens. It’s the perfect place to take a breather after a large meal and take in the beautiful Okinawan landscape. Perhaps during my next visit, I will bring a book to read on the hammocks and start a new dim sum ritual here in Okinawa.

ichihashi.aya@stripes.com

Makan Makan

Location: 501, Ishikawa-Iha, Uruma-City, Okinawa, 904-1115

Directions: From Camp Foster’s Legion Gate (Gate 6), take the express toll road starting at Exit 3. Exit the toll road at Exit 5, turning left on Route 329. Stay on Route 329 for about 3 miles before turning right at Iha Intersection. Follow the road for a half mile, then turn left immediately following the elementary school. Coco Garden Resort will be on your left.

Hours: Open daily. Lunch served from noon to 2:30 p.m.; dinner from served from 6 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.

Prices: Weekday lunch plans are 2,500 yen for adults (about $23.50) and 1,250 for children ages 11 and under, while weekend and holiday lunch plans are 2,800 yen for adults and 1,400 for children. Weekday dinner plans are 3,800 yen for adults and 1,900 for children ages 11 and under, while weekend and holiday dinner plans are 4,300 and 2,150 for children. Seniors receive a small discount, depending on age. All meal plans are all you can eat.

Dress: Casual

Information: Free parking is available at Coco Garden Resort. Reservations are recommended.

Online: cocogarden.com/english/restaurant

Some of the traditional dim sum offerings at Makan Makan in Okinawa include shrimp cheong fun, a type of rice noodle crepe, and xiaolongbao, better known as “soup dumplings.”
AYA ICHIHASHI/STARS AND STRIPES

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