Muy bueno.

Japan has a very diverse array of regional food and the cuisine of the remote islands of Okinawa is probably the most unique among them. One example of food found there is a roasted whole chicken that’s been loaded to the gills with garlic.

It was a dish that our reporter Kouhey, who often visits the southern isles, wanted to try on his next trip. However, his itinerary proved to be far too hectic to find a place that served it, so he gave up.

It was by a stroke of luck that just as he was getting ready to board a flight home, he came across a vending machine in Naha Airport that had exactly what he was looking for.

▼ The machine is located past the baggage inspection, in front of the smoking room by Gate 36.

It was run by Bueno Chicken, a restaurant famous for its whole locally-bred Yanbaru chickens that are stuffed with an entire bulb of garlic and slow-roasted.

▼ Bueno Chicken’s mascot appears to be the effervescent Chicken Dude (Chikin Yaro)

It’s not the kind of food you’d expect to find in an airport vending machine, but Kouhey wasn’t about to look this gift-chicken in the neck cavity.

Whole chickens were quite expensive at 3,500 yen (US$22) a bird, but that’s understandable since the costs of running a whole-chicken vending machine are probably considerable.

They also had half chickens for half the price, but they were all sold out on that day.

So, Kouhey took the plunge and put 3,500 yen – probably the most he’s ever spent in a vending machine – into the slot to get his chicken. It came out in an insulated silver package.

He took it with him on his flight home, anxious to get into his kitchen to whip his Bueno Chicken up.

Inside the package was a vacuum-sealed whole chicken, detailed cooking instructions, and a plastic bag, possibly as a souvenir of the restaurant.

The instructions cover all the bases from preparation to eating suggestions and everything was clearly explained with photos and illustrations.

Since it’s pre-cooked, it just needs to be reheated in boiling water or the microwave. The boiling water method was recommended though, so Kouhey went that route.

Our writer left it to soak in boiling water for 30 minutes, and his Bueno Chicken was complete!

This was Kouhey’s first time eating a whole chicken, so he also consulted the instructions on how to cut it up.

According to Chicken Dude’s guidance, Kouhey made an incision along the middle of the body.

The inside was revealed and it was completely packed with garlic, just as advertised.

It looked incredibly delicious so he cut off a big chunk to eagerly try.

It was even better than he imagined! Unlike other garlic chicken dishes, the flavor deeply permeated the meat, making it more flavorful than any chicken he’s ever had.

Despite the boldness of the flavor, the garlic had a mellowness that made the chicken very easy to eat. Even eating the garlic straight was pleasant. Before he knew it, he had polished off half of it.

▼  The wings were especially rich-tasting

He took some of the leftovers to make a soup and it was also outstanding, with not just a rich garlic flavor but the strong essence of chicken mixed in as well. It also tasted like it would pair well with most rice or bread dishes.

The only downside to this Bueno Chicken is that the powerful garlic scent will fill your home if it’s not well-ventilated. It’s probably better to enjoy this dish in an Okinawan restaurant, but if you can’t, it’s always good to know that Japanese vending machines have got your back.

Related: Bueno Chicken
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