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The hunt for Sweet Okinawan potatoes and dishes

Anyone know of any good places that serve Sweet Okinawan potatoes, also known as beni imo (and I’m not talking about ube or taro)? Last year I was in Kauai and my friend’s aunt had bought some Sweet Okinawan potatoes from the local farmer’s market and she had boiled them and gave them for us to eat and they were SOOO good. Now I’m on a hunt to find places where I can buy them as well as eat them in various forms. Is Hawai’i and of course Okinawa, the only place I can get these tasty suckers?

Recently I had gone to Ikko in Costa Mesa and it was on their menu. It was tasty but so far having them plain is good enough for me. I also read that Mushu has it on their menu. I did some goggling and I heard in Okinawa, they even serve it as an ice cream flavor (pardon the drool). Also found recipes where folks had made it into pancakes and pies. Is there some Hawaiian or Japanese/Okinawan places that serves these babies? Or can some Hawaiian or Okinawan auntie open up a restaurant to keep me happy. ;p

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  1. Is beni imo the same thing as a "Japanese purple yam"? If so, then THE place to get them in LA appears to be Jar, on Beverly Blvd., where they're served stuffed with creme fraiche. These purple treasures have been acclaimed over and over and over on this board. I finally went to Jar for the first time last night and can now join the chorus--they are wonderful indeed.

    1. The restaurant Twist at the Renaissance Hollywood serves Okinawa's as a side dish.

      1. Oooh. Thanks. YEAH!!!!!! 8) I'm sure they're called potatoes since I read that yams and potatoes are different. Sorry I'm a relatively newbie and now addict, I had posted infrequently on the old school format when my friends ask me to suggest something but didn't visit that often. SO EXCITED.

        1 Reply
        1. re: jenofkuo

          they call them okinawa sweet potatos here. While they are certainly not real yams (but commonly when people say yams they really mean sweet potatos) they are not potatos either. Sweet potatos are related to carrots. I love them too, the deep purple color is dramatic to say the least.

        2. Cafe Del Rey in MDR has a chicken dish served with cocanut okinawa.

          1. Does anyone know where we can purchase these "Okinawan Sweet Potatoes?" I asked at the Mar Vista Farmer's Market and they said farmers in California generally don't grow these. I wonder if I call Jar they would tell me who their supplier is. Maybe Whole Foods will special order. . .I feel like a purple potato junkie!

            1. Any Ranch 99 market will have them & I've recently seen some at Mitsuwa Market. They're cheaper at Ranch 99 though, and more reliable.


              3 Replies
              1. re: mellycooks

                Awesome. I live near a Mitsuwa and I'm not too far from a 99 Ranch. Is it name Sweet Okinawan potatoes or under a different name? Not looking for ube or taro, which some folks get it confused with. Thanks for the tip. I must be blind whenever I go there.

                1. re: jenofkuo

                  On the weekends there is a Farmer's market at the UCI Marketplace, across the street from UC Irvine at Campus Dr. and Bridge Rd, behind the In N Out. There is an asian farmer there who often brings the Okinawan sweet potatoes for sale, but he sells out quickly, so try to get there early!

                  1. re: jenofkuo

                    I'm not positive, but I think they're labeled Okinawan Sweet Potatoes. You may have to look around since they're not always right with the other potatoes.

                2. The Asian produce guy at the South Pasadena Farmer's market had them just this past Thursday. Also, many Asian markets carry them (as mellycooks notes, 99 Ranch is a good place) -- I usually get mine from Arcadia Supermarket.

                  1. I've heard the chef from Café del Rey on the radio talk about having them on his menu, in Marina del Rey.

                    1. When the weather warms, I will be attempting a crop of Okinawan sweets (purple) in my home garden. WIll report back on the crop. Planting in 'gopher baskets' to avoid rodent raids.

                      Lov 'em...including purple ice cream sold in Japan