Shuriso Suimui

Okinawa local meal for Muslims in World Heritage Site, no reservation required!

Restaurant at Shurijo castle is serving various customers, including Muslims and Vegetarians!

People who visit Okinawa will never miss to go to the UNESCO world Heritage Site, Shuri Castle.  The blue color of the sky and the bright red color of the gates are so impressive, which can be even considered as the highlight of Naha city.

Shuriso Suimui (首里壮すいむい), a restaurant in this World Heritage Site, is at the easy access for the tourists, which is offering vegetarian, vegan and even Halal or Muslim-friendly meals.  These meals are prepared without prior reservation, which is quite a rare thing in Japan.

Shurijo Castle and blue sky.

Mr. Satoshi Taira, chef in charge, has answered all of our questions.

How did you start serving Muslims customers?

I have started my carrier as a professional chef, and I have realized that Japan is far beyond the world’s standard in food diversity, such as allergy, religious and health restrictions, and dietary preferences.  When I was considering which category I should propel myself to, I was convinced that I should choose this problem.

I have started working in this restaurant in 2010, which was the moment I started serving not only Muslim-friendly but also gluten-free and vegan meals.

I guess there were less tourists coming to Japan in 2010.  How many of them actually needed dietary care?

To be honest, there were not so many customers who knew that we are serving meals for diverse people, which did not attract so many tourists.  However, from 2015-16, the number of the customers increased sharply, which I see more than 20-25% of the customers are looking for our special dietary meals.

There are probably more of them who need them but we just do not recognize, because they simply do not say it to us.  The fact that the total number of the customers increased by more than 15% have made me so happy.

How did you learn food diversity?

For Halal or Muslim-friendly, I have started from visiting places where there were Muslim students or Islam related facilities.  Also, Okinawa has relatively many Taiwanese tourists who are oriental vegetarians; the vegetarian meal which has no garlic or leek that have strong flavor, which I thought I have to work on this category.

If we prepare every different type of special dietary meals, the kitchen will be a mess.  In order to avoid this problem, I tried to find restrictions in common, and tried to develop a menu that has no such ingredients to let as many people as possible to eat from one menu.

Suimui offers Okinawa’s local dish.
You have learned and adjusted Halal and Muslim-friendly from practice.

When I sincerely commit myself in food, I then realize what the customers really need.

Even though it is difficult to adjust completely to the dietary preferences, I am sure that showing myself trying to understand the situation is the most vital and indispensable as a professional.  For example, we have disposable cutleries in our restaurant.  There are not so many customers who actually use them; however, I have to let them know that I am trying to understand.

We also have a paper-based information list that explains all the ingredients and our policy, which then customers will decide either they accept the food or not.

It is absolutely a great commitment.  Then, what is the hardest thing in the actual kitchen?

Staff education.  Although we pay extra attention in the kitchen, if a staff who is serving meals lucks the knowledge, then we cannot say that we are fully promoting our food.  Staff education is the most difficult thing because we have to try to understand the customer’s situation, which is the area that we cannot change by education.

It sounds like the most difficult thing to share the same amount of knowledge and passion as one team.

Could you give a message to your customers?

We understand you.  Please do not hesitate to tell us what you want, because that will be a chance for us to learn a new thing, which would be paid back to the next customers.  I wish I can return the favors that I have received from you through our restaurant and food.

Detail of the restaurant

Name: Shuriso Suimui (首里壮すいむい)
Address:1 Flr., Shurisokan, Kinjo-cho, Shuri, Naha, Okinawa 903-0815 沖縄県那覇市首里金城町1-1 首里杜館1階
Genre:Japanese food, Local Okinawa food, Restaurant
Reservation:No reservation required
Opening hours: 10:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m., Last Order at 4:30 p.m.

Information as of June 2022. The restaurant is not Halal certified, but they serve the dishes as Muslim-friendly style, which means no Pork and Alcoholic seasonings. Vegan dishes are also available.