Our Japanese-language reporter learned that the fourth time’s the charm.

You may have heard that Japan’s Ishigaki Island is part of Okinawa Prefecture, but did you know it’s also part of an archipelago called the Yaeyama Islands? This area of Okinawa has its own cultural history and local cuisines, among which you’ll find Yaeyama soba noodles. They’re flour-based noodles (not buckwheat-based!) that are a bit like udon and served up in a broth similar to ramen.

On a recent trip to Ishigaki Island, our Japanese-language Kouhey had a hankering for these specific noodles. So what did he do? What SoraNews24 does best, of course–ask a taxi driver to bring us to the best Yaeyama noodle joint in town.

Alas, that proved to be easier said than done. Kouhey lined up at the taxi terminal outside the Ishigaki Ferry Terminal, bowed deeply, and tried asking the first taxi driver that pulled up.

Kouhey: “Excuse me, can you take me to your number-one favorite Yaeyama soba noodle shop in town?”

Taxi Driver 1: “What? I don’t know. Locals don’t really eat Yaeyama soba, and honestly, I don’t know the difference between bad noodles and good noodles.”

The taxi driver seemed a bit ticked off, so Kouhey decided to ask the next taxi driver that pulled up…only to be given the same answer. That happened with Taxi Driver number 3 as well. He realized that outside the terminal may not be the best place to find a patient taxi driver, as they were probably tired of tourist requests like this.

Kouhey changed his strategy and started walking toward the center of town instead. He hailed a taxi on the way there.

Kouhey: “Excuse me, I’m trying to find the best Yaeyama soba noodle shop on Ishigaki Island. Do you know one? The other taxi drivers I asked told me they can’t really tell the difference between different restaurants’ Yaeyama soba…”

Taxi Driver 4: “Oh, I see. In that case, I know somewhere that serves some unique Yaeyama soba. Shall I take you there?”

Kouhey: “Yes, please!!”

And off Kouhey went, full of gratitude and hope. Taxi Driver 4 didn’t seem irritated in the least by his strange request. They drove for about 10 minutes before they pulled up near the restaurant in the Tonoshiro neighborhood of Ishigaki City. “The Yaeyama soba noodles here aren’t like other places, so you should give it a try!” the kind taxi driver said.

They’d pulled up outside an Aeon Max Valu–a supermarket–so Kouhey wondered if it was located in a food court. But it was actually across the street at a rather nondescript storefront.

It was called Kimi Shokudo, a restaurant that serves up miso soba. He was grateful they were still serving lunch despite it being past 2 p.m. at this point. He thanked the taxi driver and went inside.

▼ Kouhey was already excited seeing how homey and well-decorated it was. It had some character.

The menu was quite simple, including miso soba, beef miso soba, and curry soba. These were definitely unique Yaeyama soba flavors, as it’s typically made with a base of bonito and konbu.

▼ He went with the miso soba for 700 yen (US$4.94), and it was served to him in just a few minutes.

Kouhey had tried about 50 bowls of Yaeyama soba in his life at this point, but this bowl was different from all the rest. Can this even be considered Yaeyama soba? he wondered. He had to see the noodles underneath the mound of fresh veggies topping the dish.

▼ Yes, those were the thick, round noodles that Yaeyama soba is known for! He started to get excited.

▼ It was…super delicious!

The broth had an extra deep and unique miso flavor that paired perfectly with the thick noodles and green vegetables. He loved the contrasting textures of the chewy noodles and crunchy veggies.

▼ You can say you had a healthy meal with this one.

▼ It also had a generously thick slice of sanmai pork, a classic topping for Yaeyama soba.

▼ He demolished it quickly, leaving the bowl spotless.

Kouhey later found out that Kimi Shokudo is so famous around town that there isn’t a local who doesn’t know it. If he ever gets the chance to go back, he vows to try the curry soba next time.

▼ Here’s the sign that advertises Kimi Shokudo’s (キミ食堂) location.

If you visit Ishigaki Island, try looking for this spot! Aeon Max Valu Ishigaki Branch will help you spot it quickly. Just make sure you don’t eat too much of it if you’re going to ride the nearby vomit ship.

Restaurant information
Kimi Shokudo / キミ食堂
Address: Okinawa-ken, Ishigaki-shi, Tonoshiro 319-6
Open 10 a.m.-7 p.m.
Closed Thursdays

Photos ©SoraNews24
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