Unless you get claustrophobic, the highlight of any trip to Okinawa has got to be visiting the Churaumi Aquarium (美ら海水族館). How many places in the world are there where you can see two huge whale sharks swimming gracefully in front of you? And what about the manta rays, sting rays, shovel-nose rays and eagle rays that escort them? Or the evil looking schools of giant trevally that would probably taste alright on a hibachi? Every time I visit Okinawa I have to visit there. If my family would let me, I could sit for hours in front of that huge twenty metre wide window gazing into the Kuroshio Sea (黒潮の海). It almost feels like you’re watching a larger than life Sharp Aquos television.
Unfortunately, it is a long drive up to Churaumi and there isn’t a lot to do along the way. When I was visiting there last we decided to stop by the “American Village” in Chatan (北谷) to break up the trip. It’s just to the south of Camp Foster (キャンプ瑞慶覧) and Camp Lester (キャンプ桑江).
Although I didn’t see too many Village People (or Americans for that fact) there, “American Village” is a low rise shopping mall that was developed on the site of an old American air-force base runway. I suppose it is Okinawa’s answer to Odaiba (お台場) only a little more compact. While my ladies were walking around the fashion outlets there, I decided what better way could there be to kill the time than by munching down on a hamburger. Low and behold, within the section of the village called “American Depot” there was a quaint looking little hamburger joint called Pocke Farm so I decided to pay them a visit. (This is the 4th in our “Japan’s best burger series – here are the 1st, 2nd and 3rd in case you missed them).
Pocke Farm is like one of those little huts run by Filipinos that you’d expect to find in a Hawaiian parking lot. The shop itself is just a small box adjacent to American Depot but it does have quite a spacious deck “out the back” for customers to sit down and enjoy their hamburgers so it actually pulls off a high score when it comes to atmosphere (especially on one of those rare Okinawa sunny days).
The menu is a bit of a mix of American, TexMex and Hawaiian fast food. I’m not sure why that doesn’t really strike me as strange but I guess it is a bit of a common theme across Okinawa. Apparently they recommend the Spam Thick’n Chunky Egg Sandwich (スパムチャンキーエッグサンド 580 yen or $5.75) but I wouldn’t recommend it unless you can sing the Monty Python Spam song backwards as those slices of spam look truly chunky. The tacos (480 yen or $4.75) that my brother-in-law were eating didn’t look that appetising either.
I decided to try their “locomoco burger sandwich” (photo at top of article – 680 yen or $6.75). Why not? Okinawa was the closest I was going to get to Hawaii for a while. In addition to the standard lettuce and tomato, the locomoco burger has a fried egg, sunny side up, and home made demi-glace sauce (if you dont know what locomoco means click here). I’m a sucker for words like “original recipe” and “home-made” when it comes to my burgers and having demi-glace sauce on my burger sounded a whole lot better than some runny gravy. While it might seem like a strange thing to say, the buns were pretty good on the burger. The buns are the same on all of their hamburger sandwiches and are baked freshly every day using a secret recipe that contains cereal. They have quite a whole-meal flavour to them so you almost feel as though you’re eating a health food.
You can see the photo of my actual “locomoco burger sandwich” at the top of this article. It was nowhere near as pretty as the photo at the cash register but it tasted fine. The salad was fresh and the pattie was a normal size. At the time I was very tempted to give them two Stippies for the home-made bread and demi-glace sauce but in retrospect I think it is probably only worth one. Perhaps if the weather was better and they sold beer from the Kona brewery instead of just corona and Budweiser, I might have been fooled into giving it the extra stippy. To put it in context, this was the first hamburger that I ate in Okinawa after being pretty disappointed at Jef and AW so I was pretty easily pleased. That said, the place was very popular and I would definitely recommend grabbing a quick bite there if you’re visiting American Village around afternoon tea time.
All items have a USD price which is generally calculated by diving the JPY price by 100 and then subtracting 5 cents. Go figure. Needless to say with the exchange rate the way it is at the moment, if you’ve got any spare greenbacks you might save yourself a few pennies by paying in dollars.
As with nearly every hamburger joint I’ve visited so far in Japan, for some reason they can’t spell English that well. Albeit it was only one letter but you would think that a hamburger restaurant in a shopping centre called “American Village” that was built on an old American air-force runway right next to two existing American bases would be able to spell HAMBURGER! (My Engrish photo of hamburger spelt “hanburger” at a hamburger shop didn’t turn out so well.. so you’ll have look for it when you visit!).
Pocke Farm [ポッケファーム]
Address: 9-4 Mihama, Chatan, Nakagami, Okinawa (沖縄県中頭郡北谷町字美浜9-4)
Website (Japanese only): http://www.depot-abc.com/pockefarm/index.html