Tacos in Japan?
My friend Randy Taguchi, an author from Kanagawa, Japan, told me she was heading to Okinawa to get some tacos. Ludicrous, I thought. There are no tacos in Japan. Something is amiss.
Another friend of mine explained that Randy probably meant “tako”, the Japanese word for octopus. This made sense, maybe I had misunderstood.
However, Randy specifically told me she was going to Okinawa for tacos. And since she was headed to Okinawa, which is essentially the same as Americans heading to Hawaii, I suspected she wasn’t doing it just for a bunch of octopi.
Octopus in Japan is like, I dunno, ham in Delaware.
Then she sent me the photo on the left. I can’t tell if they’re crispy or soft tacos, but they are, in fact, tacos. Here are some more photos of Randy’s trip to Okinawa.
As happy as I was to see the heavenly glory of tacos spreading throughout the world, I was a bit disappointed that the bastardized American version of tacos ended up overseas, instead of the real thing. And something tells me that these were really expensive, when real tacos should only cost one dollar.
From what I understand, the influence of tacos came from the US Marines that were stationed in Okinawa back in the day. A local Okinawan chef realized the popularity of tacos with the soldiers, and created a dish called ‘taco rice’.
Taco rice is ground beef, seasoned with chili powder (sort of like 4-alarm Chili mixes), and served over a bed of rice with lettuce and cucumber. This dish is now so popular in Japan that it is served as a school lunch, and KFC has adapted it into their Japanese menus.
Here’s a Marine recipe for taco rice, and if you look at the comments you’ll see several guys that are sappy about this Okinawan cuisine. Someone decided it was a good idea to stuff the food into a tortilla, and at that point, the Taco went full circle and reinvented itself.
I had an in-depth conversation with Japan, as a whole, about their choice to use Casa Ole tacos instead of real tacos.I’m the guy in the video that resembles Bruce Lee, and the other guy is Japan.
Yes, I understand that Bruce Lee has nothing to do with Japan, but I thought it was fitting.
Thanks to Randy Taguchi for sharing the pictures!