A local specialty from Okinawa, served up in a very unique way. 

About a year ago, our Japanese-language reporter Kouhey visited Ishigaki Island in Okinawa, where he ate goat soup, a local Okinawan specialty, for the first time. His first impression of the unfamiliar dish was that it had a light broth, and a slightly peculiar smell of goat meat, but it turned out to be such a great meal that he still remembers it to this day.

So when he recently returned to Ishigaki island he was looking forward to trying the soup again, and when he spoke to locals about it, he discovered there was a place where he could buy the soup at any time of the day or night — from a vending machine at Misaki Center Street in Misaki Town’s Ishigaki Island Village.

▼ Get your goat meat here, 24 hours a day.

Kouhey wasted no time in finding the machine, and when he perused its contents, he found there was a lot on offer, with not only goat soup but goat ramen, goat jerky, goat sashimi, and goat yukhoe (a Korean raw meat dish) to choose from.

Kouhey went straight for the goat soup, priced at 1,000 yen (US$7.26), punching in the number for his selection and feeding his money into the machine.

After a moment or two, he heard his purchase drop down into the tray below, and when he went to retrieve it, he found it was much bigger than he’d expected.

▼ The contents weighed in at 800 grams (28 ounces)!

While he was at the machine, another product had caught his eye so he decided to splurge on that one too, sliding another 1,000 yen bill into the slot to receive…

▼ …goat sashimi!

Kouhey had been so excited to purchase goat from a vending machine that it wasn’t until he got back to his hotel that a sad realisation dawned on him. Both products needed to be heated in a pot on a stove before eating, and there was nowhere in the hotel for him to do that.

▼ After a moment of despair, Kouhey decided to mail the products back to his house so his purchase wouldn’t go to waste.

About four days later, after Kouhey had returned home, his parcel arrived on his doorstep, and so he opened the box and set about preparing his meal straight away.

Starting with the goat soup, Kouhey found that the cooking method was incredibly simple — just heat the bag in boiling hot water for 10 minutes.

▼ So he took the bag out of the pack ……

▼ …and dropped it into a pot of boiling water.

While that was being done, Kouhey took out the goat sashimi, which needed to be defrosted in a tub of cold tap water for about 15 minutes.

This was an easy meal to make, because once both goat dishes were ready, all he had to do was serve them up and eat.

Kouhey began with the goat soup, which looked to be filled with lots of meat.

At first glance, the oily surface of the soup made it look like it might be heavy on the stomach, but it also promised to deliver rich mouthfuls of flavour.

So how did it taste? Kouhey took a sip and immediately gave it a five-out-of-five star rating. The goat soup he ate last year was light, but this one was noticeably richer, containing a lot more fat and goat meat. After enjoying a few spoonfuls, he even added the pack of lard that came with the package to up the oil content.

▼ Not something you want to be doing every day, but Kouhey figured this once-a year splurge might be okay.

With the added oil, the richness increased noticeably, deepening the taste of the broth and bringing everything together to create even more hearty flavours.

At this point, Kouhey’s palate was looking forward to something a little lighter, so he reached for the raw goat.

▼ The goat sashimi didn’t come with any sauce, but Kouhey paired it with some sweet soy sauce from his pantry.

As he brought the morsel to his lips, he could smell the goat meat, which was honestly quite strong.

Kouhey is used to strong-smelling meats like lamb so although the smell was noticeable, it wasn’t offensive, especially after it had been dipped in sauce. As for the taste, it tasted like, well, goat meat, with a tougher texture than cooked meat, but it was tasty nonetheless.

▼ Kouhey finished his meal by alternating bites of sashimi with spoonfuls of goat soup, which turned out to be a great combination.

▼ One bite of refreshing sashimi…

▼ …followed by a good slurp of hearty, rich soup…

▼ …until he was down to his last slice of goat sashimi.

Before he knew it, Kouhey had finished every bite of his meal, leaving only bones behind.

So, as it turns out, you can buy goat sashimi and goat soup from a vending machine and not only live to tell the tale but have an enjoyable experience. In fact, next time Kouhey heads down to Ishigaki Island, he’d like to try some of the other goat dishes such as goat ramen and goat yukhoe. And he’ll be sure to pop by Tommy’s for some heavenly bread too.

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