Sama Sama

sama sama restaurant tanegashima

I’m kind of embarrassed I haven’t written more about the food I’ve been eating. Because I have been EATING. I want to do these places justice though, so be patient with me plz. Ok, so lets begin: one of my favorite restaurants in the town of Minamitane is Sama Sama. I have no idea what Sama Sama means, but when I hear it, I think of yakitori.

yakitori at sama sama in tanegashima

This is a plate of mixed yakitori shio (chicken skewers seasoned with salt…somehow they taste like more than the sum of their parts). If you’ve watched “The Mind of a Chef” season one with David Chang on Netflix, you know what the first skewer on the left is: a painstakingly unraveled chicken wing. The next is chicken with green onion, then a dark meat skewer, a thin-sliced pork belly skewer, and the last is white meat with wasabi. The Japanese word for what these are is oishii (meaning delicious). Oishii is one of the first words I learned in Japanese and I use it all. the. time.

sama sama restaurant tanegashima

That’s Masa-san, the cook/owner grilling some yakitori on the left, and a close-up of his handiwork on the right. Are you guys seeing how atmospheric this place is? It’s cozy and feels like every piece of it has been sort of, I don’t know, collected? The fact that it’s run entirely by two people helps too.

fried camembert at sama sama tanegashima

Breaded and deep-fried Camembert cheese. Yup.

salad at sama sama tanegashima

All the salads in Japan are awesome. The national obsession with freshness is really highlighted in salads: no brown edges or soggy bits here. Sliced pork and sesame dressing on top.

yakitori tare at sama sama tanegashima

This is yakitori tare (pronounced ta-ray) – similar to the yakitori shio, but topped with a sweet, brown sauce called tare which is sort of similarish to teriyaki. I should probably look that up.

cheese pancake at sama sama tanegashima

That up there is a Korean style green onion and cheese pancake, cut into wedges. Nice and crispy on one side, cheesy on the other.

duck at sama sama tanegashima

They have these mini table grills you can order to grill your own meat over Japanese white binchotan coal. Masa-san fills them with hot coals and sets a lava stone on top to use as the grilling surface. This one’s being used on some duck.

mackerel at sama sama tanegashima

Masa-san torching some marinated mackerel, table-side.

chicken wing dumplings at sama sama tanegashima

These things are out of control. Chicken wings that have been carefully slit open and stuffed with gyoza filling.

chicken wing at sama sama tanegashima

Deep fried chicken. Wing. Gyoza.

masa san at sama sama tanegashima

Bottles of sake and Masa-san. This place has basically charmed my face off, and Masa san is a great cook. If you ever go to Tanegashima, head to Sama Sama and eat all the things. Actually, if you’re anywhere within a thousand-mile radius of Tanegashima it would be very much worth the trip to eat at Sama Sama. Just go, ok?

  1. Our neighbors are Japanese and I keep hoping to be invited to dinner because it always smells so gooooood.

    Caitlin — January 10, 2014
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  2. It's a generalization, but the Japanese seem to be good reciprocators. So if you take them something you make, you might get something awesome in return. Small tangent though: isn't trying to meet new people outside of college the worst?

    courtney — January 10, 2014
    1. reply
  3. Oh how I miss Sama Sama. I made the chicken wing dumplings for my wife once and now she asks for them at least once a week.

    Pope — July 23, 2014
    1. Those things were so good. I need you to show me how to de-bone a wing though...that seems like a tricky thing. If we ever do, lets make a few hundred so we never run out!

      courtney — July 24, 2014
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