Back in March of last year, I finally got around to visiting one of Koenji’s esteemed Okinawan izakaya, Dachibin. A little over a year later, and I found myself invited to enjoy another evening of Okinawan cuisine at Kiyoka, the honten – now in its sixth decade – of the family-run chain of Okinawan businesses located not far from the station’s north exit.
Huddled down a sidle alley between lurching, half-rotten looking bars and eateries, Kiyoka is much smaller, and thus more intimate, than Dachibin, providing a more peaceful, leisurely dining experience, too. The service was patient and friendly, which always helps.
The menu is pretty much the same – plenty of Okinawan staples, only with less focus on the lower-end of the category, such as spam and scrambled eggs, as is usually encountered at less authentic Okinawan establishments.
We started the meal with some pungent tofuyo, a dense, cheese-like tofu eaten in small amounts as an accompaniment to liquor.
Dumplings followed, and didn’t last long. Would have preferred slightly thicker skins, but they were tasty nonetheless.
The goya-champuru was good, mostly because if contained real pork instead of spam. This dish seemed less bitter-tasting than it ought to, which might have been down to a bad batch of goya or something to do with the season, perhaps.
The sunui (a type of seaweed) tempura was very good, and could have easily been ordered a second time without complaint.
As could the gurukun, deep-fried fish so crunchy you can eat the whole thing.
We finished off the meal with a kind of spicy minced meat dish (the name escapes me), eaten by wrapping the meat in lettuce leaves, and some standard yaki-soba.
Keen to go back for some more. Although not as lively as Dachibin, I preferred what Kiyoka had to offer.