Helios is the “other” Okinawan brewery, and is almost as beloved as Orion on the islands. Their brewery is based in Kyoda, near Nago city on the main island of Okinawa. Helios Pub is situated on Naha’s Kokusai Dori (International Street), and opened in July 1996. BeerTengoku visited in August, 2014.
I walked straight past Helios Pub at first; it looks nothing like the craft beer bars that have opened in recent times. Absent are the driftwood tables and trendily-dressed staff – the first thing you see at the entrance are Showa-style wax replicas of the food on the menu. Inside, you’ll notice that the only thing consistent about the bar’s design is that there’s no consistency. Staff are dressed in vests and bow ties. Tables inside Helios Pub are old, chipped lacquered cafeteria cast offs; chairs are ornate carved artisanal thrones. Painted murals on the walls depict beer making processes around the world; in the corner a projector loops a sea life DVD endlessly while Papa Roach plays in the background. You could surmise from this that they’re trying the scattershot approach to appealing to a broad market (Showa and bow ties for the old folks! Nu-metal for the army guys!), but I like to think that this is the result of nearly two decades of slowly evolving through the craft beer boom, bust and resurgence.
I was eager to try Helios’s beers (all of them!), so I went for the tasting set for ¥1048. Aoi Sora was really great, with a flavour of banana and cloves. The Goya Dry (Ji-biru senses tingling!) wasn’t as full-on as I was expecting – the flavour would become more apparent when I tried a full pint later on in the week. Shikwasa White was a nice take on the usual recipe. The Pale Ale reminded me of Hitachino Nest Pale Ale with its maltiness and aftertaste. The Porter was mild, more on the black ale end of the scale than the stout end.
Helios Pub serves a mix of traditional Okinawan cuisine, seafood and standard izakaya fare. We went for the Spicy Grilled Chicken (¥809), Okinawan Seafood Salad (¥905), and Suuchikaa (¥619), which are pork cuts pickled in salt. The chicken and salad were fine (although we couldn’t for the life of us work out what the white squares were- the chef told us it was squid), and you can never go wrong with umibudou. Also known as “sea grapes”, this is the green caviar-looking stuff on top of the salad- it’s a species of seaweed and a specialty in Okinawa.
The Suuchikaa, however, was a bit hit and miss. I love salty food, but the thick and chewy rinds of fat made me gag and put me off after I ate a few slices. I’d order it again, but probably not from Helios Pub. (My trip to Okinawa was characterised by drastically varying qualities of the same local food – Tuesday’s delicious Soki Soba became Wednesday’s horrifying Soki Soba, for example).
Helios Pub One Paragraph Review
The bill came to a reasonable ¥4781 for two people. I wouldn’t really recommend this place, though. There’s so much competition amongst restaurants on Kokusai Dori and I feel like Helios Pub is leaning on its name rather too much. Many other places in the area serve Helios beer in addition to much better food and decor. Hell, even the izakaya on the third floor of the same building has tastier food (including traditional food) and gets its beer from Helios. Additionally, I was able to find every one of the beers I tried in can form at the local convenience stores in Naha (Shikwasa White Ale is available in Seijo Ishi in Terrace Mall now as well).
Helios Pub Details
Open: Sun ～ Thur 11：30 ～ 23：00 (L.O. 22：30) Fri and Sat 11：30 ～ 24：00 (L.O. 23：30)
Phone: 098 863 7227
Address: 〒900-0013 Okinawa Prefecture, Naha, Makishi, 1 Chome−2−25
How to Get to Helios Pub
The nearest station is Miebashi station on the monorail. Helios Pub is a 3 minute walk from it.