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CHATAN, Okinawa — This island is a cornucopia of great eats — there’s plenty of authentic Okinawan, Japanese, Mexican, Italian and just about any other cuisine to be found.

And if it’s not authentic — like, say, Okinawa’s famous “taco rice” — it can have a weird island twist.

But for Long Island lad who grew up in the shadow of New York City, there was always something missing in my Asian subtropical paradise: good Greek food.

Until now, that is.

Welcome to Sunabe Gyros. That’s pronounced “gear-roes,” as in those tasty meat and veggie Greek sandwiches guaranteed to drip yummy yogurt sauce down the front of your shirt. It’s the original Greek fast food.

Sunabe Gyros opened in August and since then, according to co-owner Howard Harford, it’s been doing a brisk business with Americans longing, as I did, for something different.

It’s a small, no-nonsense shop about a block from the Sunabe Seawall near the main gate to Kadena Air Base. There’s seating for only 16 people, but gyros are basically a take-out food anyway. Grab a pita wrapped around slices of beef or chicken with tomato, onion, lettuce and the out-of-this-world tzatziki yogurt sauce, and glide on down to the nearby seaway to watch surfers and divers, or just catch some rays.

Or you could try the falafel — a chickpea-and-herb-based substitute for meat. Basically, it’s a veggie gyros — and very tasty.

My only real complaint about Sunabe’s is the lack of lamb, my favorite gyros meat. According to Harford, the cost of getting lamb to the island is prohibitive.

Harford said he and his partner, Keith Ehman, spent quite a bit of time looking for just the right place to open an authentic gyro shop.

“Gyros is probably the most popular fast food in the world, and we missed that here on Okinawa,” Harford said.

The prices are more than reasonable — five bucks for the authentic chicken and beef gyros and the same for the slightly different tuna pita or BLT pita sandwiches. For an extra buck you get more meat, but our gyros were already jam-packed with goodies and threatening to slide out of the pita bread and onto our laps.

Combo meals cost $6.50 and include your choice of a gyros or pita sandwich, chips and a soft drink. Kirin beer is also available.

The decor is fun, with pictures of Greece on the walls and an empty bottle of Ouzo on the counter to give a hint of authenticity.

See previous After Hours reviews here.

Sunabe Gyros

Prices: Gyros $5; Greek salad $4; Kirin draft beer $3.50. Soft drinks $1.50.

Specialties: Fast, Greek food.

English Menu: Yes.

Dress: Extremely casual.

Clientele: The beach crowd and Americans from nearby Kadena Air Base and Camp Foster.

Location: Chatan near the Sunabe Seawall. From Highway 58, turn west, toward the water, one stop light south of Kadena’s Gate 1. Sunabe Gyros is about a block from the Sunabe Seawall, on the right.

Web site: None.


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