Taco rice is a local cuisine from Okinawa prefecture, which is rice topped with ingredients of tacos, such as ground meat, cheese, lettuce, tomato, and salsa sauce. The meat used are normally cooked with garlic, onion, bell pepper, and seasoned with salt, pepper, and chilli powder.
Taco rice was created in a town called Kin in Okinawa prefecture, where there is a restaurant street right by Camp Hansen. The founder of the restaurant called Parlour Senri, whose name is Matsuzo Gibo, came up with the menu, and started to serve taco rice in 1984.
The yen rate was strong back in the 1980’s, and US military personnel did not eat out much. So, Matsuzo wanted to create a menu that is cheap and with quite an amount. By combining tacos which is popular among Americans and rice that is filling and cheap, taco rice was created.
The taste of original taco rice used to be spicy simply using tabasco and salsa sauce without any other ingredients, but the spiciness of taco rice nowadays is reduced by the use of processed cheese, shredded lettuce, and tomato.
At some shops, ingredients such as lettuce are offered as an option with extra charge, and there can be different combination of ingredients chosen. For example, there can be a combination of chicken rice and taco meat with toppings of lettuce and cheese.
Taco rice is now served as a school lunch in Okinawa prefecture, and is also popular among US personnel stationed in Okinawa. Restaurants and shops in other prefectures, especially Tokyo, are serving taco rice, and is now a menu that is known nationwide.