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Petty Officer First Class Cliff Brown prepares to dine at the Commodore Matthew C. Perry General Mess (The Jewel of the East) on Wednesday. The Yokosuka Naval Base galley won first place for overseas service for the second year running.
Petty Officer First Class Cliff Brown prepares to dine at the Commodore Matthew C. Perry General Mess (The Jewel of the East) on Wednesday. The Yokosuka Naval Base galley won first place for overseas service for the second year running. (Allison Batdorff / S&S)

YOKOSUKA NAVAL BASE, Japan — Big burgers. A bountiful salad bar. Chocolate-chip cupcakes you’d have to pay $5 for in a coffee shop. Surf and turf.

That Yokosuka Naval Base’s Commodore Matthew C. Perry General Mess (The Jewel of the East) held on to its title as “Best Overseas Galley” two years running came as no surprise to those eating there. Customers sang its praises between mouthfuls at lunchtime Wednesday after the morning announcement of the Captain Edward F. Ney Awards.

Established in 1958, Ney Awards recognize overall food service in these key areas: customer service, restauranteurship, cleanliness and management.

“Everything is so well-prepared and the salad bar is always stocked,” said Petty Officer 1st Class Deborah Ibilola. “It’s a good deal — and they even clean up after us.”

“I hope sailors who visit our galley will take a moment to congratulate and thank the professionals who work there for all they do for our sailors here in Yokosuka,” said base commander Capt. Greg Cornish.

Yokosuka’s galley — open to active-duty military only — serves 1,500 meals a day for $3.55 a pop. The galley won top honors two years in a row in a three-tiered competition.

First, the galley is named regional winner out of Commander, Naval Forces Japan. Then the chief of naval installations makes an inspection. Lastly, Naval Supply Systems Command brings in both military and civilian chefs to evaluate the operation.

All inspections are a “surprise,” said Chief Warrant Officer Arnulfo “Max” Agpaoa.

The menu is on a 42-day cycle and features crab legs, steak and regular cultural offerings from Japan, the Philippines and Mexico. Sailors contribute menu ideas quarterly and accumulated ideas go to the U.S. Navy nutritionist in July. They’ve received 100 points out of 100 for “health” the past two years, Agpaoa said.

“It tastes like people care about what they’re making here,” said Petty Officer 2nd Class Corey Rush. He’s been a “food taster” at the galley since 1999.

But there’s ambience, too, Agpaoa said.

“We want to have a relaxed atmosphere. A lot of these people are coming from work — and they’re pretty stressed out,” he said. “We understand how hard these guys work.”

Seaman George Wilkerson agrees.

“It’s like a restaurant,” he said.

Galley representatives will pick up the award in Miami on April 6-9.

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