When I first arrived on Okinawa in early 1972 there was exactly one American fast food joint on on the entire island - an A&W located on Highway 1 at the north edge of Naha. Before I left a year-and-a-half later, Kentucky Fried Chicken had also come to the island and opened a shop on Kokusai Street. That was forty years ago - and the chicken was good - and we were glad (ecstatic, really) to have it.
Over the intervening years, while I was back in America, I began to feel that the Colonel's standards were slipping - or perhaps it was my memory and taste buds slipping - but the product impressed me less and less, to the point that eventually I weaned myself off of those eleven secret herbs and spices altogether. And when I discovered El Pollo Loco in Arizona and California,well, there was just no going back to the Colonel.
Now there are a variety of American fast foods available on Okinawa including dozen's of A&W's, McDonald's, and Kentucky Fried Chicken's. The military contracts to have Popeye's Cajun chicken sold on it's bases, but Colonel Sanders controls the chicken sales out in the community. While I don't have any major criticism of Popeye's, other than the locals who work at the one on Kadena screw up every order at the drive-through window, I have grown bored with their menu.
I've been here for two years and never managed to set foot in a Kentucky Fried Chicken, but the other night while planning a picnic lunch for the trip to Zamami, I decided to try a bucket of KFC to see how it compared to the product that the company sold in America.
I was impressed. In fact, it was a case of fast food shock and awe!
The restaurant was clean, the service quick and courteous, and the food was wonderful. The chicken was fresh, and it had obviously been fried in oil that was also fresh - and it had been drained of excess grease before being placed in the bucket. The pieces were large and meaty and cooked to perfection. And, best of all, I got what I paid for. Yup, I took it home and counted!
I am so glad that I gave Okinawan Kentucky Fried Chicken a chance. It turned out to be one of the best eating experiences that I have had in the Far East. Harlan Sanders would be proud!