Sunday, August 22, 2010

The British Wine and Tea Shop

by Pa Rock
Cultural Explorer

Original Sign for British Wine and Tea Shop signed by
artist Ralph Steadman
Good friend Murphy swung by this morning and picked me up for a day on the road.  Although we made a few extraneous stops, the thrust of our trip north had two objectives:  the British Wine and Tea Shop where we had a wonderful lunch, and Okinawa's famous Churaumi Aquarium, a world renowned marine exhibit that was constructed shortly after I left the island in the 1970's as part of the Okinawa's World Expo.  Today I will discuss the Tea Shop, and tomorrow's subject will be the Aquarium.  Expect some good photos with each report.

To call The British Wine and Tea Shop remote would be serious understatement.  It is so well hidden that most people make their initial visit by traveling to the secluded establishment with someone who has dined there before.  The place was founded by a sweet old Brit named John and his Japanese wife, Maki, about four years ago.   Maki was trained as a chef at Cordon Bleu London and also worked as a pastry chef at the Savoy and Sheraton (5-star) hotels in London.   John was also trained as a chef in London and owned his own restaurant there. Their entire staff seems to consist of one other young oriental lady.   The owners live on the premises and are expecting a baby this fall.
Owner and Chef John in his apron - standing on the
front deck of the British Wine and Tea Shop

The tea shop is not busy, but it is definitely a quality establishment.  Each day John and Maki change the menu and cook a limited amount of food.  Today there were four or five selections.  I had a wonderful beef in red wine dish with rice and a large serving of delicious vegetables that included several types of peppers and squash.   We also shared a pot of Breakfast Tea - with plenty of cream - the way the Brits drink it.  For dessert I had a frozen parfait with berries.  John also brought us complimentary chocolate truffles and some Japanese cherries.  The chocolate truffles were the richest that I have ever encountered!

Murphy and I arrived just as another couple were leaving.  They asked us to take their picture with John - which Murphy did.  They had been the only diners, and when they left we became the only diners - which meant that John made several trips to our table to chat while we dined on his wonderful creations!

Besides the great food, the other unique characteristic about the British Wine and Tea Shop was John's art collection, some of which was on display.  Sometime in the 1970's John struck up a friendship with artist Ralph Steadman.  (One of Steadman's claims to fame is that he was Hunter S. Thompson's de facto personal illustrator for several years.)  Not only does John own many Steadman limited-edition illustrations, Steadman also designed the sign for the tea house.

The British Wine and Tea Shop is a place not to be missed during a stay on Okinawa!

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