Coffee & Donuts in Okinawa City

コーヒー, or 珈琲: coffee

ドーナツ: donut(s)

Recently I decided to investigate some places listed in an Okinawa monthly magazine (Porte, sold at bookstores and convenience stores for 500yen). This month’s theme was coffee… and I love coffee.


BB Coffee (Awase): Very hip space, both indoor and outdoor (as well as plenty of free parking). Stanford-chan is the resident doggy, very adorable. I got a cafe latte and caramel donut; both were outstanding but pricey. In the morning from 7am until 11am you can actually get a free breakfast set (toast and salad) with ANY drink purchase… good deal. Since I was there for a donut, I actually skipped this offer which I am sure was strange to them. The outdoor space is dog-friendly. As an update, we returned and brought the dog along for breakfast, it was quite nice. My husband got one of the sandwiches and enjoyed it immensely.


Theater Donuts シアタードーナツ (Koza): This is actually a movie theater and donut shack all in one! There is a separate theater space (ticket required, it seems they mainly show documentary type films), as well as a regular eat-in space overlooking Koza. I got the sunny lemon donut and cafe au lait. The coffee was nothing special, but the donut was really good. I love the decor here, it is very cool. Parking unfortunately are pay-to-park lots in Koza, otherwise the price was pretty reasonable.


Miyazato Tofu Donut Shop 宮里豆腐ドーナツ店 (Takahara): This shop also sells tofu… I guess they got the idea to sell soy based donuts as well. There is no eat-in area here, and parking seems to be the side of the street. Anyway, there are a few different options to choose from; I chose the walnut brown sugar (くるみ黒糖) which while tasty was wayyyyy too sweet for me. You can also order fresh soy milk to accompany it (yum, definitely recommend this!).


Outside of Okinawa city area

Matayoshi Coffee farm 又吉: Actually this is located in Higashi, but was featured in the magazine. My husband and I drove up on a nice weekend to explore. The coffee is grown in Okinawa, and they sell Okinawa coffee as well as blends. It is pricey… the taste is fine, it isn’t like Kona coffee delicious. Anyway, they also sell baked goods from Bakery and Cafe Coo (located in Nakijin) which are really tasty. You can also walk around the farm area, and there are cabins/camping spaces for rent. Overall, it is a cute little day trip.




Croissant taiyaki (fish-shaped pastry) at ゆんたくカフェWan

クロワッサンたい焼: croissant taiyaki (read here for more info on taiyaki)

Yuntaku Cafe Wan ゆんたくカフェWan is a very small “cafe” located in Kunigami 国頭村 (Northern part of Okinawa) that specializes in croissant taiyaki. It is located near the Okuma resorts.

When you first pull up, it is super charming, and there is a faithful dog who comes out to greet you. The lady inside is very friendly and has built the shop along with the various tables and such herself~~ she is a superwoman! There are some outdoor spaces for eating, or you can get takeout.

We purchased 3 taiyaki to go: sweet potato, potato salad, and bitter chocolate. We then proceeded to the seawall to indulge while enjoying the unusually beautiful weather and the view.

Anyway, these croissant taiyaki are by far the BEST I have had in all of Okinawa! It was definitely worth the drive. I definitely recommend both the sweet and the savory versions, they were all amazing. Even my husband regretted not getting more (we bought 3 total) after tasting them; he initially rolled his eyes at the idea of taiyaki when I first suggested it, but I remained firm as I really wanted to try this place after I had seen some pictures online. Once he tasted it, it couldn’t believe how delicious they were. The owner won an award for these delicious treats, and we can definitely understand why after tasting them. These are far and above soooo much better than the croissant taiyaki that the Gindaco chain serves!


Nakayoshi: 宮古そば なかよし

宮古そば Miyako soba

Near to the university, on a back road, there is a small local restaurant called Miyako Soba Nakayoshi. As my sensei is from Miyako-jima, he is partial to this place, so of course one sunny day he treated us students to lunch and kakigouri (shave ice) かき氷.

When you see the place, you know it is a true mom&pop type shop, filled with regulars. Inside, it seems everyone knows everyone else. Anyway, we all sat down and checked out the menu; mostly the typical shokudo stuff, including a type of Okinawa soba (suba) popular in Miyako-jima.

Well, being as I don’t eat meat, sometimes eating Okinawan food can be a bit of a challenge. But the owner is very kind and made me Goya Chanpuru without the pork. Funny enough, one of my lab-mates ordered the same as me. For dessert, my sensei ordered us all Okinawa zenzai, which is basically shave ice with sweet red beans.

Everything was delicious and cheap, as expected from a  small place like this. Anyway, if you find yourself looking for small hole-in-the-wall places near Ryukyu University, this is a place to check out for some local hospitality.


Book cafe&hall ゆかるひ: Making “oyaki”

oyaki おやき: a style of dumplings from Nagano prefecture

I went to a workshop organized by a company called “Table Watch”— to learn how to make dumplings from an Okinawan obaachan, Yaka-san. Oyaki is a traditional Nagano food.

The Book cafe&hall Yukaruhi is located on the 3rd floor of the Yaka Building in Naha (Yaka-san’s family owns the building, hence the name Yaka Building). There is a big sign in front that says “Vegan OK!” Nice. Inside, it is part crafts workshop, part cafe, part music hall… there are many aspects to this place.

Anyway, I registered with Ayako-san the workshop coordinator for Table Watch, received my name tag and hair net, along with the other attendees (both Japanese and American).

Yaka-san started us off with explaining about oyaki and showing us pictures of different fillings, as well as the more traditional cooking methods in ashes. Then she sang us a special song she wrote about oyaki for the class. It was awesome, and explained the oyaki-making process. She was born and raised in Okinawa, but when she got married moved with her husband to Nagano. She recently returned to open the cafe here in Okinawa.

Then we got to start making our own dough. Just flour, lukewarm water, baking powder, and sugar, mixed and kneaded until the texture was “like a baby’s cheek” (赤ちゃんのほっぺ!). Next the dough has to rest.

For the fillings, we used 3 different types: nozawana (pickled greens) with spicy red pepper added, shiri-shiri kabocha (grated pumpkin sautéed with red miso), and zucchini slices sandwiched with sweet light miso. All 3 were delicious. She taught us the basic techniques for the fillings and let us sample.

Next we divided out the dough, and learned how to make the shape… it is kinda like when you stretch out a pizza dough except you want to keep the center part fat and make it thin around the edges. Add the filling and then wrap the edges up (similar technique to making nikuman or other Chinese dumplings). From here they were flipped over (so pinched side on the bottom), put onto a small square of parchment paper, and steamed for about 10-15 minutes. You can also fry and then steam or just bake if you so desire.

Once we were finished, we got to relax and eat our oyaki with some black bean tea and sobagaki. Sobagaki is another regional dish made form soba flour mixed with hot water and stirred in a bowl, until it becomes a mashed-potato-like dough ball. The dough is then torn into bite-sized pieces and dipped in a sauce, like shoyu or spicy pepper dressing. It kinda reminded me a little of poi, a little sticky and chewy. Everything was delicious and I really enjoyed myself. Yaka-san was so cute and friendly.

Anyway, the cafe is open during the day Thursday through Monday, so be sure to stop in for a delicious oyaki snack sometime! She also serves some meat things and cafe drinks as well as the vegan oyaki. I also recommend trying a workshop organized by the Table Watch company!

pictures on imgur:

address for cafe, open Thurs-Mon 11am-7pm:

Oyaki recipe: this is mostly just for the skin, the filling is sort of up to you but I include some ideas!

Makes 10 oyaki skins:

-300 g of Chuurikiko 中力粉: medium strength flour used for udon making (about 9% protein strength)

-1 teaspoon baking powder

-2.5 teaspoon granulated sugar

-180 cc warm water

Mix together the ingredients with chopsticks until it becomes more dough-like then knead like bread, with a little extra flour to keep from sticking, until springy (Japanese like to say “until it is the texture of a baby cheek”). Let it rest for awhile, at least 30 minutes so it gets elasticity.

Prepare your filling, whatever you want (seriously anything), just can’t be too wet as excess water causes the oyaki skin to crack as it cooks!

In our workshop we had 3 different fillings: 1) nozawana 野沢菜, a type of pickled greens from Nagano which is easy to find in Japan grocery stores… spinach or something could also be good, just be sure to squeeze the water before filling the dumpling skin with the cooked spinach. 2) We also used shredded kabocha sautéed with red miso. 3) zucchini cut in 2cm round, then sliced not quite in a half, stuffed with sweet light miso like a sandwich. **Basically, anything goes, just nothing with too much water.

Divide the dough into pieces, then shape into a ball shape. Stretch it out slowly from the sides kinda like when making a pizza dough, keeping the middle a little fat (keeps the skin from breaking while steaming), and thinner on the sides. In the middle add your filling and then wrap the sides up like a little package, pinching in the middle to close it. Yaka-san said don’t worry too much about the shape of the oyaki, if it is rounder or flatter– it shows your personality, apparently. Put them onto a small piece of parchment paper in a steamer basket (if you are steaming them).

Steam 10-15 minutes. OR pan-fry for 3 minutes each side and then steam OR just bake them. In the workshop we steamed them, and this would be the healthiest option.

Cafe Station

Cafe Station is located in Urasoe, fairly convenient from Rt.38. It shares a building with HottoMotto (fast food chain bento store), and there is plenty of parking.

When you enter, you order and pay on the first floor, then go to the second floor where the eating area is. Pick a nice comfy chair and relax; they will bring your order up to you when it is ready. There are about 6-7 lunch set choices… I usually choose a pasta. The menu is all in Japanese, no English, but they have pictures and it is mostly katakana since it is more “western-style.”

In addition to lunch sets, you can get dessert sets. The desserts come from a really fancy bakery, Piednue (which has a store front elsewhere if you want to try just it). The baked cheesecake and the chiffon cakes are divine. Overall, it is a really nice cafe to check out while in Okinawa.

address for Cafe Station:

address for Piednue:

Coronets at Pippi: コロネ

コロネ korone: coronet

At a little place called Pippi in Ginowan, you can find amazing little treats called “coronet.” They have a crispy outer shell and are filled with a cream; you can choose from all sorts of delicious flavors. Honestly, I don’t know how I could choose a favorite from all the flavors… maybe Earl Grey or Salt Caramel. Or Apple. Or… well, it is tough to choose since they are all so good.

Anyway, you can get take away or eat-in. They also have some lunch sandwiches of some sort, but I have never tried any of those. Only the coronets. I definitely recommend them for a special treat.

Just as a note, some bakeries make a different type of coronet: a soft bread shaped like a shell and filled with some sort of cream. These are also good, but that crispy, flakey shell at Pippi filled with unique flavors is amazing.


Christmas Tea Ceremony: クリスマス茶会

茶会 chakai: a tea “gathering,” a more informal tea ceremony.

クリスマス kurisumasu: Christmas

Recently I had the good fortune to attend a chaikai 茶会 here in Okinawa. The location was at Shoufuuen 松風苑 in Haebaru 南風原 (southern part of the island), the birthplace of Ultraman ウルトラマン (hometown of Tetsuo Kinjo, scriptwriter)! The theme of the chakai was Christmas, and of course, with a little Ultraman thrown in the mix.

Anyway, I dressed myself in kimono and met up with some fellow foreigners at the event venue. Of course, as a foreigner who dressed themselves in kimono and speaks some Japanese, many people found their way to talking to me. I don’t think it is so impressive for me to do these things, but Japanese people are often overly kind and complimentary regarding these things. It was a little embarrassing for me as I did not actually have time to do my hair and make-up properly due to oversleeping, so I had rushed to get ready.

The venue consists of some beautiful buildings and gardens set away from the main road; it is one of the few places here in Okinawa where I felt more of the Japanese atmosphere (rather than Ryukyu or Chanpuru cultures).

In general, a chakai is a little less formal than a proper tea gathering ceremony, called a chaji 茶事. This particular event was a 3-part event (lasting a little less than 3 hours total): tea ceremony outside, light meal, and an indoor tea ceremony. For the first tea we were seated at a table outside and served tea with 2 types of wagashi. Afterwards met with a famous potter here in Okinawa; he made the giant shisa that sit on either side of Kokusai-dori area in Naha. He also made the small pottery cups that were used (and we got to take home) during our light meal.

The light meal was held inside the banquet area. It was tatami seating, so properly one should sit seiza 正座, but as a foreigner that is a bit difficult for long periods of time so… I did not, despite the awkwardness of sitting in kimono. The little pottery cup we received as a souvenir has a design for the New Year… the year of the dog! This made me very happy as coming new year, the year of the dog 戌年 (inudoshi) is my zodiac year. The meal was beautifully and carefully prepared, as well as quite filling. I cannot remember everything in it, but the only meat was the chicken (which I did not eat); there was of course fish/seafood, which I ate on this occasion (though admittedly I am not a huge fan of fish in general).

Anyway, next was the last tea ceremony held in one of the more formal tea ceremony rooms. It was beautifully decorated. Again, this time we sat seiza for the whole time and admittedly I need practice as my feet became a bit painful. But overall I enjoyed the entire thing.

After the last ceremony, we found ourselves going up to the small “museum” dedicated to Ultraman. It is only 2 small rooms, but very cute and interesting. When not used as an event space, Shoufuuen is also a restaurant… I definitely recommend trying it sometime for a nice kaiseki (traditional multi-course Japanese/Okinawan meal) experience!

Posted below are a few pictures from the event; I could add so many more, but tried to choose some of the better and more relevant ones. Hopefully everyone who spends time in Okinawa or Japan will take the opportunity to attend a chakai!


sweets cafe O’CREPE

In Naha there is a very cute crepe shop called sweets cafe O’CREPE; I think the word “quaint” comes to mind. Actually, it is sort of Martha Stewart-countryside kind of adorable and quaint.

Anyway, it is off a quiet street, located on the second floor… you may even miss it if you aren’t looking for it. Despite the rather drab outside, once you step inside, it is just so cute.

The menu consists of both sweet and savory crepes, as well as cafe drinks. Overall, it is a bit pricey to be honest, but the setting and atmosphere more than made up for it. Anyway, I ordered a sweet crepe and a hot tea, the total was around 1100yen. There was some English on the menu, so ordering shouldn’t be difficult if you don’t speak Japanese.


Bali Noon Bali Moon

I finally went to Bali Noon Bali Moon in the Plaza House shopping center near Aeon Rycom Mall; they were on my list of places to try for awhile. The biggest reason I wanted to go: tempeh (テンペ ten-peh in Japanese).

This place makes their own tempeh… and it is sooooo much tastier AND cheaper than the packaged stuff you can only find at some of the hippie organic stores here in Okinawa! The tempeh taste was really amazing; they sell a 500g block for 500yen. Compare this with the 100g packaged stuff sold elsewhere for ~350yen, this is a steal. So for anyone looking for tasty and reasonably priced tempeh, Bali Noon Bali Moon is absolutely the place to go.

As for the restaurant itself, it was decent. I ordered the tempeh curry and my husband got the mixed lunch set. Both tasted pretty good, but it was a bit expensive for lunch overall in our opinion. That being said, Indonesian food is pretty exotic for Okinawa, so I can understand the price being a little higher than some other more typical restaurants. It is worth a go, overall, plus there are vegan and vegetarian options.


Vegan Ramen in Okinawa

UPDATE March 2020: Only a few short years ago Vegan ramen was rare, now there are several! : Sora No Ira & A Hokkaido ramen, both in the Noren Plaza Ramen street! Also Orange Shokodu in Kin town.

There is a place called Stripe Noodles in Chatan, Okinawa (outside of the American Village area) that serves a type of vegan ramen (in addition to several meaty ramen types, predominantly know for their “steak ramen”).

This place is very Americanized and a significant majority of the customers are foreigners, especially American. It becomes obvious when you are eating your noodles and NO ONE is slurping, not even a tiny bit! I found it eerie to be honest, and made me wonder if I was even in a ramen shop… Later it occurred to me that the other Americans may have been horrified at my slurping manners, just the same as I was horrified at their complete lack of slurping manners.

Anyway, during the month of October, they serve pumpkin (kabocha かぼちゃ) “ramen” and year-round they serve a tomato-based ramen (also vegan). Since vegan/vegetarian ramen is extremely rare in Okinawa and Japan, it is good for people with dietary restrictions.

I have only tried the pumpkin “ramen.” I put it in quotes because… well, it wasn’t really like ramen. It tastes pretty decent, but I feel it is a stretch to really consider it ramen. The “broth” was really thick and sweet like a typical kabocha soup; I thought maybe it would be better if it was a little thinner it would feel more like a ramen. It was also lacking something to sort of balance out the sweetness. Though the noodles were surprisingly fairly good– chewy consistence and not overcooked or bloated like I feared they might be going into an Americanized place.

Overall, it was okay. Not amazing, but the taste was okay, and the price not unreasonable (though perhaps a bit high for typical ramen). Mostly, I would say it was the atmosphere that was lacking. But maybe that makes me like a crotchety old man, who just prefers the darker interior noodle shops with din of clanking and slurping and ramen chefs continuously calling out.

I haven’t tried the tomato version yet… maybe I will try to go back sometime and try. But first I will need to muster up the courage to return to a noodle shop where there is no slurping.

The ticket machine menu is extremely English-friendly and there is parking in front of the store.

If you are still looking for another vegan ramen, then check out Rakurobi kitchen, macrobiotic cafe:楽ロビkitchen; they have a version of vegan ramen on their menu. They are not ramen specialists, but rather a macrobiotic and healthy food cafe. **New: Check out Orange Shokudo for vegan ramen: Another Vegan Ramen option in Okinawa: Orange Shokudo


**BONUS: While out shopping I found vegan ramen to make at home at my local SanA grocery store. I was surprised, as occasionally I see instant vegan ramen at HappyMore or Pals farmer market stores, but it is not commonly seen here in Okinawa.


Minatogawa Stateside Town: 港川

Minatogawa 港川 is located in Urasoe 浦添市; in this neighborhood is an area called “Stateside Town.” It is old military housing which has been converted into trendy small cafes and shops.

First thing I must mention: parking can be AWFUL. There is only one pay parking lot, and while some of the shops have their own parking spaces, it is pretty limited. If you decide to visit, try to go during non-peak hours and days. Not only is the parking terrible, but the roads are very narrow and thus with so many tourist cars, it can get hectic. But all this said, don’t let this deter you from visiting this cute neighborhood!

Within this area are many tasty things to try. I won’t list all of them but I will give you an idea…

Recently I tried Secondo Casa (it used to be the location of Pizzeria Onda, now relocated to Naha). I went for lunch and ordered the mushroom cream pasta which comes with salad, bread, and drink. Honestly at 1400yen it was a bit expensive, but still very tasty. But everything in this neighborhood is a little on the expensive side, so it is not out of place.

La Vita is a French/Italian type of place; when I went for lunch a few years ago it was so-so. Not particularly amazing, but decent.

Matsudaira Japanese Soba was also very good; you can read about it in the separate blog post linked.

oHarcorte is a local chain and VERY popular. What I have tried there has always been very good but damaging to my wallet. So… proceed with caution.

In between eating, you may want to browse through some of the small but cute shops, such as Portriver Market.

Address for Minatogawa Stateside town:


Yuinchi Hotel: Onsen and Buffet

This blog post is long overdue… it has been sitting in my drafts folder for many months, so here it goes. It seems foreigners are interested in trying out onsen while in Okinawa, so here is a continuation of my Okinawa onsen posts.

Yuinchi Hotel and Spa ユインチホテル in Nanjo is home to Enjin-no-yu 猿人の湯, a.k.a. “Bathing Ape” spa (or “Ape-man” hotspring). The adult entrance fee to the onsen is 1,650yen (elementary age is 750yen, 6 and under is free). Overall, it is a fairly nice facility, with sauna, jacuzzi bath, ocean onsen bath, waterfall bath, etc (but no outdoor bath!). Since the hotel and spa is perched atop a hill, you also have some nice views as you bathe. While it may not be my personal favorite onsen or sento in Okinawa, it is certainly a worthwhile experience and a very nice facility.

This onsen does not allow tattoo in the public area, however, you can reserve private baths (you may enter these as a couple or a family!) for guests with tattoo. I have never reserved a private bath here since I do not have any tattoo, but I have heard others do so with good experiences. **Private bath prices PER PERSON (depends on size of group):  alone 5,000円, 2 people 4,000円 each, 3 people 3,000円 each, 4 people 2,500円 each.

After your bath, be sure to make you way over to Restaurant Sunpeer サンピア, undoubtedly one of the top hotel buffets on island– with plenty of healthy EM options and top-notch cheese from the island’s only real cheesemaker. Everything is superb, and I was totally impressed as it exceeded my expectations. It is a little bit more cost than other buffet restaurants, but well worth it.

pictures coming soon.



Street food… in Okinawa?

Hmmm… street food in Okinawa? To be honest, this is not really much of a thing outside of matsuri (festivals); matsuri are the best times to find all these foods. There are no big street food markets or night markets like some other areas of Asia. But, there are still things I would consider street food, even if they are not all jammed into a large marketplace in one particular area of the island.

Probably the easiest place to check out for “street foods” is in the surrounding neighborhoods of Kokusai-dori (International Street) 国際通り. There are several snack and light meal options, Makishi market, and other small street vendors around. Again, nothing like Taipei, or other places with large street food markets, but some good foods to try while you explore Naha.

Here is a list of some “street foods” to keep an eye out for here in Okinawa:

Yakitori 焼き鳥 (grilled chicken skewers): Yakitori stalls are ALL over the island. Usually they do not open up until ~3pm or so, mostly for the evenings. You can find them alongside many backroads or next to farmers markets, smoke billowing out of their ramshackle stalls. This is not especially Okinawan, but it is a popular Japanese street food.

Pork Tamago Onigiri ポークたまごおにぎり: This is definitely island-style, and I think most Hawaii folks would appreciate this one. I wrote a post on this already, so click the link to check it out. Basically this street stand sells (a fancy version of) spam musubi!

Yatai-mura 屋台村: The literal translation of this place is “street stall village.” This place was set up to replicate Japanese yatai-style dining (again, not really very Okinawan). Anyway, I also wrote a post on this place before, so be sure to click the link to read about it.

Tenpura 天ぷら: Actually, quite a few markets have tempura stalls, where they simply sell individual piece of tempura. Often times you find fish or fishcake, but sometimes there is potato or squid, etc. You will also most likely see mozuku tempura… this is unique to Okinawa, and worth a try.

Nikuman 肉まん (Chinese bun stuffed with meat), Croquettes コロッケ, oden おでん (stewed skewers in broth): You can mostly just find these in the convenience stores. I know, not the same I guess. But, these are types of Japanese street food that you can try in Okinawa. There are occasionally some places that might carry these, but it it is not common to see these along the streets of Okinawa.

Takoyaki たこ焼き (octopus balls) and Taiyaki たい焼き (fish-shaped pastry): The most common place to find these is at Gindaco in the malls. Otherwise you may get lucky and occasionally run into a small shop that sells these Japanese goodies.

Kakigouri かき氷 (shave ice) and Okinawa zenzai ぜんざい (shave ice with red beans): This is all over Okinawa in the warmer months. You can find it on the streets, lunch shops, the mall, pretty much everywhere.

Sata-andagi サーターアンダーギー: Okinawa fried donuts. These can be found in some of the farmers markets or tourist markets.

Just an additional list of some popular Japanese “street foods”: many of these are found at matsuri or other food festival booths in Okinawa, though some may be not be so common outside of that.

Yakisoba 焼きそば: fried noodles.
Ika-yaki いか焼き: I like to call this one grilled squid-on-a-stick.
Yaki-toumorokoshi 焼きとうもろこし: grilled corn.
Okonomiyaki お好み焼き: Japanese savoury pancake.
Ringo-ameりんご飴: candy apple.
Wata-ame わたあめ: cotton candy.
Choco banana チョコバナナ: banana, dipped in chocolate.
Crepe クレープ: Japanese-style crepes.
Frankfurt フランクフルト: hot dog.
American dog アメリカンドッグ: corn dog.

Kame Andagi

カメアンダギー Kame Andagi is a small cafe located in Umikaji Terrace on Senaga-jima (same area as the Ryukyu Onsen and Happy Pancake) that serves fresh sata andagi サーターアンダーギー with various types of toppings.

Sata andagi is a classic Ryukyu sweet, and here at Kame Andagi, it gets a little bit of a twist. There were several choices, so it was a little hard to choose, but I ended up with the matcha ice cream 抹茶アイス as it was a rather hot day outside. You could even add 2 toppings together for the ultra dessert if you so desired. But the price was a little high, so I decided against it. I think my total was around 400yen, and honestly, it is not that big– an andagi split in half with a scoop of ice cream (I am considering the fact that you can usually get a plain andagi this size for about 80yen).

But it was SO delicious! Warm andagi, cool matcha ice cream… such a good combination. I really recommend trying this place when you are near Senaga-jima (connected to Okinawa main island by bridge, close to the airport). I thought that even though the price seemed slightly high, it was really tasty and unique to Okinawa. Plus, there is a nice view in this popular tourist area, so I figure it was worth it.


Trattoria Shobu トラットリアショーブー

Today’s lunch brought me near to Camp Foster, a little Italian joint called Trattoria Shobu トラットリアショーブー. It is a nice place, and all lunch sets were 1000yen. They also serve dinner (so the prices change up a bit).

You could choose from many types of pizza and pasta, I am pretty sure there was something for everyone. The sets come with salad, soup, and soft drink. I got the pepperocino pasta, so it also came with bread. For an additional 200yen you can add dessert, but I am trying to be good so I decided to pass for today. They had tiramisu which was really tempting.

Inside was a little quirky, but comfy. There are some tables as well as bar seating. The menu comes in both Japanese and English, probably since it is so close to the military base. Parking was a little tight (lucky I have a kei car), but they have 5 parking spaces for the restaurant.

Anyway, the food was really pretty good and I was pleasantly surprised with my experience; I would definitely recommend trying this gem if you happen to be in the area. As a bonus, they also do takeout pizzas (both tomato base and cream base), all only 980yen.

Miyama Shabu-shabu: 美山しゃぶしゃぶ

My husband wanted to try a shabu-shabu place for lunch. It is a chain from the mainland called Miyama Shabu-shabu. There is only 1 in Okinawa, located in the Haebaru Aeon Mall (southern part of the island).

They offer a cheap lunch course for 1000-something yen, though the menu has various combinations with varying degrees of price (things like beef, or all-you-can-eat meat). The cheap lunch course though, comes with 2 trays of (imported) pork, thinly sliced with 8 slices per tray; since I don’t eat pork this means my husband will get 4 trays. The lunch course comes with all-you-eat eat vegetables, noodles, rice, pickles, etc. For one half of the pot you also choose 1 of the 4 types of soup for cooking (the other half you get a default basic water with konbu in it); we went with the Korean-style “spicy” which was not really that spicy at all. For an additional 250yen you can also get the soft drink bar. As a fair warning, the menu is all in Japanese but there are some pictures which might help.

Anyway, we got seated and ordered without any difficulty. Luckily we were seated in a back corner so no one could stare at my husband while he ate all the meat and I just stuck the veggies. At the table were ponzu ポン酢 (shoyu+citrus) and goma-dare ごまだれ (sesame dipping sauce). We were also given extra peppers and spicy sauce since we ordered the Korean-style broth. The veggies, noodle, rice, salad, etc. were all self-serve. It was all quite good, and I enjoyed a variety of noodles and veggies with my shabu-shabu. There were Okinawa soba noodles, udon noodles, cellophane (bean thread) noodles, and somen.

Even just eating veggies, noodles, salad, rice, and pickles I felt I got a decent deal. My husband said that 3 boxes would have been perfect and 4 was a little too many, but he ate (and enjoyed) it all anyway. So we both left happy, even though one of us doesn’t eat meat.



The other day I tried out yet another cute cafe in Okinawa, this one located in Tomigusuku (south part of the island). It is called Maitoparta, and specializes in waffles, as well as having some gourmet coffees.

Technically, this is a “dessert cafe” not a breakfast cafe. Well, whatever, I ate brunch here anyway. You can get a savory waffle set, but I wanted one of the sweet ones. I went with a honey/nuts/vanilla ice cream waffle and a soy latte. You can also choose between 2 types of waffles, or get a “mix.” There are also a bunch of different flavored waffles to choose from, toppings, etc. It was actually pretty affordable compared to other pancake and waffle type places I have been– 830yen for the waffle and drink set I ordered.

There are a decent number of parking spaces outside, but it filled up fast. The cafe was very clean and cutely decorated inside… it was full of young to middled aged ladies. The wait for my food was fairly quick, too… overall it was a very nice experience, and I can see why it has gained popularity. Of course, this is calorie rich, so only a special occasion treat.


Bagel’s Mee 3: ベーグル屋ミスり

ベーグル beh-gu-ru: bagel

While recently in the Nago area (North part of the island), I finally stopped by this small bagel shop called Bagel’s Mee 3. I had passed it before a few times, but I think it was always closed for some reason or another, or maybe previously I just couldn’t tell it was open.

It is a small shop, with maybe room for 2 cars to park out front. Both the inside and outside are a brightly colored, with sort of a hippie-ish vibe. There are soooo many flavors of bagels to choose from, made fresh every day with natural ingredients and no preservatives. You can order a bagel plain or with cream cheese, or as one of the sandwiches. I ended up choosing a goya-cheese bagel with cream cheese… I couldn’t resist the unusual combination! It was delicious. Since there are not a whole lot of bagel options on island (and one of them closed), it was a nice treat. My husband got a pastrami bagel sandwich and seemed to enjoy it. We got our bagels to go, but there was a small seating area if you chose to eat them in the shop.

The price was comparable to other bagel prices in Japan I think, a little less than 1100 total for the bagel sandwich and the bagel with cream cheese. Not cheap compared to a state-side bagel, and obviously not as delicious as a New York bagel, but here in Okinawa we gotta take what we can get. Overall, I look forward to stopping at this small shop again when I am in Nago.


Beer Gardens in Okinawa: ビアガーデン

ビアガーデン bia gaaden: beer garden

Summer in Japan would not be complete with beer gardens. In Okinawa, there are a few around this time of year. They typically have nomihoudai 飲み放題 and tabehoudai 食べ放題 (all-you-can-drink/eat) plans. Some of these beer gardens are very popular, so it is important to get a reservation.

This year, my husband and I decided to go to the beer garden held by ANA Harborview Hotel in Naha for our wedding anniversary. The bonus to this beer garden: wear yukata or jinbei and receive a significant discount! We also booked a room for the night, so we could just crash after our 2.5 hours of drinking and eating.

So, of course, I dressed myself and my husband in summer yukata to save money and to make it a special experience. It was my husband’s first time wearing yukata in public; he received many high-5s and “kakkoii.” It is somewhat rare to see a foreign male wearing yukata unless he has a Japanese girlfriend or wife (so some people were surprised to learn that, yes, I dressed us both by myself). A few people even took our picture; we were the only ones dressed in yukata that evening as most the others were there for after-work gatherings.

Anyway, when we arrived at the outdoor beer garden at our allotted time, it was decorated with string lights. It was a little warm out, but as the sun was going down, the temperature was dropping a bit. The food was set up buffet style (it is themed for every month, this month was “Spanish”), and even the drinks were self-serve. They had 3 beers on tap: Asahi super dry, Asahi black, and Orion. Additionally wine and highballs were available. Probably awamori and whiskey, too, but I did not much notice.

The food and drinks were pretty good, and we had a really nice time. Part way through the evening, the staff came out with a special cake dessert and sparkling peach wine for us since I had mentioned it was our wedding anniversary in the reservation. The service was really above and beyond, so it was a great way to spend a special occasion. Since we got a discounted price, I thought it was a good value… if I paid full price, I may not have felt quite the same. Full price was 4500yen, discounted price for wearing yukata… 3000yen.




Miyazatoya Coffee: 宮里屋

Another hot day here in Okinawa. As I went out to run some errands, I remembered a coffeeshop in Naha I had wanted to try… so I decided to go ahead and check them out.

It shares a parking lot with a home store, so there are plenty of parking spaces. The shop itself also doubles as a flower shop, so when you walk inside it is actually a little magical feeling… like you entered a secret garden or something. There are plants everywhere, and it has a really nice atmosphere.

As much as I wanted to stay (there is a cafe on the bottom floor, as well as seating on the second floor), I needed to get it to go. You can also order a light lunch or cake set here. I got an iced hazelnut coffee, and while I actually tend to avoid this type of flavored-sugary-whipped coffee drinks (to be honest, I never go to Starbucks in Japan with all the fancy limited time specialty frappes), this was quite good and what I needed on a hot day. This was a rare treat indeed~~

They have their own originally roasted beans in store, and there are plenty of options to choose from, both iced and hot. I thought the prices a tad on the high side (keep in mind I also drink Lawson machi cafe coffee normally), but it is a sort of specialty shop so it is not unreasonably priced. I couldn’t tell you how the price compares to Starbucks, but I suspect it is a bit higher overall. However, being an independent shop that roasts their own beans, I think the price compares to other shops of this nature, at least in Japan. This is definitely a cute place, worth coming back to when I am in the Naha area.


Cafe Nicoli: カフェニコリ

Cafe Nicoli in Ginowan has smoothies (スムージー) and scones (スコーン). I passed by there many times but never stopped in, so finally I decided to take a peek.

Since it was a hot day, a smoothie sounded nice. There are 2 parking spots down the small road past the shop, across from the Ginowan library labelled for the shop. The shop is very cute looking from both the outside and the inside. There are rows and rows of scones, as well as a few cookies which all smelled rather delectable. I will try to remember these for next time I need a baked good. There were quite a few smoothie choices, from coffee bases, yogurt bases, cream bases, and fruits bases. Some were sold out though, so check the board inside the shop.

The price and size of the smoothie was really quite reasonable (perhaps even cheap) for Okinawa; I got a mango smoothie which was likely not made from local Okinawa mango but frozen ones. Which for the price was fine… if it was made from local mango I am sure the price would be quite a bit more.



Slowlife Cafe: スローライフカフェ

Slowlife Cafe is a beach-themed cafe located in Ginowan. I pulled up, and parking seemed a bit… well, anyway I pulled up the curb where some other cars were parked, so I think it was okay. The cafe is on the 2nd floor, so it has a pretty nice view if you go out to the terrace.

Anyway, the interior was very nicely decorated and comfortable, sort of “beach chic” with natural wood and ocean colors. The menu was only in Japanese, but not too complicated as there are only 4 items on the menu for lunch: plate of the day, pasta of the day, don (rice bowl) of the day, and sandwich of the day. Each come with soup, salad, and drink, all for 1000yen; if you add the cake of the day, it is an additional 150yen.

They didn’t have all of the -of-the-days written out anywhere like most places, instead the server listed them off. Though it seemed he was not confident that I would understand much because I was a foreigner, he said them all fairly quickly and without much details. I didn’t bother to correct him on that or ask more details, as I pretty much knew I would get the pasta anyway and I added on the cake since it was cheesecake. Not that he was rude or anything, quite the opposite, very friendly… just a lot of times as an obvious 外国人 people tend to assume you have zero grasp of the Japanese language. Everything was pretty good; not superb, but for the price I thought it was pretty decent. I enjoyed eating in the relaxed atmosphere. It definitely seemed like a trendy but not expensive place where young 20somethings could eat, drink, and enjoy life slowly not too far from Tropical Beach in Ginowan.


Seaside Drive-In: シーサイドドライブイン

The Seaside Drive-In is an assuming place located near Moon Beach Hotel in Onna (North). It is open 24 hours, and is sort of charming in its own way. It reminds me of Hawaii, actually, so I felt very comfortable inside like I was eating back home.

The food is cheap, nothing exotic, just sort of a typical drive-in diner menu; it has “western,” Japanese and Chinese dishes (seriously, if the menu had some spam options, chili, and loco moco I would swear I was in Hawaii). My husband and I both got sandwiches, a side of fries and a soup for the husband– our bill was ~1100 yen. We were quite satisfied with our lunch. I cannot believe we passed by this place a few times to never check it out until now! If you are looking for a cheap lunch spot with plenty of options in Onna, this is a pretty decent place to check out. Plus, you can even get take-out if you don’t want to eat inside; the counter is to the left of the entrance doors outside.

There is even a jukebox, 100yen for 2 songs.


Bonus: Abandoned restaurant island?! Out the window of the diner (or from the parking lot) you will spot a strange little “island” with a pretty dilapidated structure, only about 20 m from the shore. It is called “Hiituu-jima” ヒートゥー島, translated as “Dolphin Island” in Okinawan language. The reason being they used to hunt/kill dolphins in the area of Nago Bay around the island and eat them so there is some rumor of it being a haunted or ghost spot (kinda like the opposite of a power spot). Though I hear the custom of eating dophin is still practiced in the Nago area even today; it used to be a protein source for Okinawans.

The owners decided to open a restaurant only accessible by boat (you can already imagine why this might be a failing idea) that would serve hiittuu (dolphin) on the menu and started building on the small island; however they did not end up getting permission or approval from the local authorities, dooming their restaurant to never actually open. So, now it is in ruins. Perhaps the revenge of the dolphins.

There is also a rumor that unhappiness always comes to those who enter this island. There was a young man who went to the island to explore the ruins. It seems that he broke the mystery stone shrine inside and took pictures; it is said that he died the same day due to an accident.

Since it is technically private property I cannot encourage you to visit it (you could easily swim/snorkel in the area), or if the tide is low you can practically just wade out. There are signs (in Japanese) that say no trespassing, so keep this in mind if you try to seek it out and get into trouble. That being said it does not keep out some of the fearless urbex-ers, as there seem to be a few blogs out there with photos of this place, as well as a fair amount of graffiti decorating the ruined building.

**心霊 shinrei spirit, ghost, soul; can also be used in “haunted” spot (心霊スポット shinrei supotto).


Nikka Pokka, Avocado House (Cafe)

Nikka Pokka is a cafe in Urasoe also known as “Avocado House.” This is because it features many dishes with avocado– yum!

It is kinda of a weird place to be honest. At night, it is actually some sort of club. I don’t really know, but it is really clean and doesn’t have a weird club vibe or anything. It is really set up just like a typical Japanese ladies’ cafe. I use the word “ladies’ cafe” for small, cute, clean places where the majority of the clientele are adult ladies (20’s to 50’s usually).

Anyway, there are a few parking spaces outside so it is not to difficult to get in and out of. The menu is only in Japanese, so come prepared.

The lunch sets come with soup, salad, puchi dessert (small size dessert), and drink bar (which only has tea and coffee, fine for me but other people may find this weird). Many lunch entrees include avocado in some way, but there are some pastas and such without avocado. I usually get what is called the “avocado plate,” which comes with an avocado cream pasta and 2 half sandwiches (one is avocado cream cheese and the other is potato salad). It is pretty good. It may not be super fancy, but it is only 1000yen and fills you up. I always enjoy it here, so if you are living in Okinawa and like avocados, you should really try it out sometime.


Paikaji: ぱいかじ

I mentioned this izakaya 居酒屋 in a previous post. But Paikaji ぱいかじ is really a great place for eating and drinking, probably one of my favorites. Since it is a local chain, it has a few locations, mostly in Naha area. Luckily there is one not too far from RyuDai. By the way, the name Paikaji means “wind that blows from the south” in the Okinawan language from the Yaeyama islands.

I recommend reservations since they get really busy. Even my husband can call and get reservations, so you don’t need too much Japanese. Though I don’t think anyone has ever spoken English to me at this particular location… perhaps the ones in Naha might since they are closer to the tourist areas.

When you enter, take off your shoes and store them in the shoe lockers. Warning: my husbands enormous shoes don’t really fit too well in these… so it may not close and lock if you have really large feet. Anyway, from here they will show you to your private room; there are different rooms depending on the size of your group. Since it is often just me and the husband, they give us a small room. Luckily, no worry about sitting on tatami, the floors are cut out so you can swing you legs under comfortably (though some of the other rooms might be regular tatami style or even western tables, it depends on the branch you go to!). The rooms are decorated with Ryukyu themes, and some of the host staff wear Ryukyu-style kimono. There is also someone who plays sanshin– s/he will even come around to your room and play just for you! Some locations might do more live shows with music and singing, but I have only been to the branch in Ginowan.

From open until pm, draft beers are only 100yen. So cheap. And they come in nice frosty mugs. They also have daily specials, cocktails, awamori, etc. I always just get beer though.

The food menu is varied– from local dishes to Japanese dishes to “western” food. Not to exaggerate but everything I have ever ordered here has been awesome (and I don’t think that is just the cheap beer talking!). Goya pickles, rakkyou tempura, age-doufu, chanpuru, garlic potato, hirayachi, yakisoba, etc… it has just always been tasty. There are even some “pizzas” on the menu. While most the menu is in Japanese, there are pictures, so I think you shouldn’t be too lost if your Japanese reading skills are not so great.

Ordering is very easy since you have “bing bong” at your table. Just push the button and moments later someone will come by to take your order. They allow smoking in here after a certain time (~8pm and later), but since the rooms are divided I have never been affected by cigarette smoke.

After you are done eating/drinking and pay your bill, just have one of the staff call a DAIKO or taxi service for you. There is a large parking lot here, so you can drive and DAIKO back to your home if you drink.

I should take more pictures of this place, but I am always busy eating and drinking so I often forget…

address, located across from Okinawa International University:

Here is there website where you can make web reservations a few days in advance, as well as check the menu and other locations!


Korean Bingsu in Okinawa

So typically in Japan, there is kaki-gouri かき氷, “shave ice.” And there is tons of that here in Okinawa, especially Okinawa “zenzai”.

But today I went to a new place that opened up, a Korean dessert cafe called Yuki-no-Sonata 雪のソナタ in Naha. And also the only Korean dessert cafe I have ever found in Okinawa… so I was anxious to try it. They serve bingsu (in Japanese katakana it is written as ビンス), which is a fluffy elaborate snow ice that only Koreans could have come up with~~ now maybe you can see why I am excited to try this place.

The cafe itself was clean and nice, with K-pop tunes playing. The menu is sparse, only 4 choices. Since I dragged my husband here, we ended up ordering the Oreo flavor bingsu (instead of mango) as a compromise; it came stacked with Oreo cookie, brownie bites, and chocolate sauce overtop the fluffy snow ice. It was a hefty price, 900yen– though students (under 20 years of age) get a 30% discount! Jealous. This place is definitely trying to reel in the younger crowd. Despite the high cost, we enjoyed it immensely as it was totally delicious. It also made me realize how much I miss this style of shave ice! I can honestly say I have never seen this type of bingsu or snow ice here in Okinawa until today.

So while we will not be coming here often since my wallet cannot afford it, it was so ono and refreshing on a hot day like today. My hope is that it will catch on here in Okinawa, and the costs can come down…

You can’t even see the fluffy snow ice underneath all the cookie and chocolate! After we started digging in, there was no hope for another photo…

address for Yuki-no-Sonata 雪のソナタ:

Italian Tomato Cafe Jr.

Let me start with: this is by no means a fancy, Italian restaurant. It is a reasonably priced sort of fast-food chain restaurant with “Italian” pastas. There are also some fancy little cakes, too, for cafe time. I would not choose here over a real Italian cafe or restaurant, but if you are feeling lazy and want something easy… this works. If you want “real” Italian, check out one of these other places in my previous post.

I go here sometimes since it is decent for a quick lunch. It is consistent, and a decent value. It is easy and does not take too long. The menu usually has some English on it, and there are pictures. You can order a smaller size pasta or a larger size. So if you are looking for something easy to order and “western-ized” in Japan, this is a nice place to try.

Typically I order the smaller pasta with the salad/drink set, coming to 900yen. This is the perfect amount of food for me, but perhaps if you have a bigger appetite you will choose the larger size.

There are a few of these in Okinawa (mostly Naha), usually situated in strip mall type areas where there is plenty of parking. I usually go to the one in BarClay’s Court, Urasoe:

Here is a link to find Italian Tomato Cafe Jr in all of Japan:


Asakusa, Senso-ji and Kappabashi Kitchen Street

A continuation of our Kanazawa trip.

After our short Kanazawa trip, we took the train from Kanazawa to Tokyo. We only had 1 night, so we couldn’t do a whole lot, but we were able to enjoy a few things in the Tokyo Station area and surroundings. I guess since I have been to Tokyo a lot, I usually change up what I see and do each time to keep it interesting. This is just one small example of Tokyo.

We arrived at Tokyo Station after the 2.5 hour train ride from Kanazawa. From there we transferred lines for only 1 stop to Shin Nihonbashi; our hotel, Tokyu Stays, was a short walk from there. The hotel was actually very spacious for Tokyo! It also had a lot of nice amenities (there was even a washing machine in the room for those of you on long trips), so I would highly recommend this hotel for all these reasons. The only down side to this hotel is the breakfast buffet was not very good, though it was cheap (500yen)– I would not get it again, and just head towards the station for a decent and cheap breakfast.

We were finally about to get out and explore by 5pm, but since the tourist sites were mostly closing, we had to settle mostly for walking around. We walked outside the Imperial Palace area (in the Kokyo gaien 皇居外苑), by the large number of pine trees until we were hungry for dinner.

At this point, we decided a cheap “western-style” dinner would be best since I am pretty sure my MIL was getting a little tired of Japanese foods. We took her to a typical family restaurant, Saizeriya, which we don’t have in Okinawa (it was also my husband’s first time at this restaurant chain). It is sort of a cheap Italian-y diner food, so nothing gourmet or exciting, but a nice place to sit and get some decent food, somewhat similar to Gusto and Joyfull restaurants. The biggest bonus is the price– we left there for less than 2000yen for 3 people. And most important, everyone was satisfied.

On the way back to the hotel we passed through Tokyo Station’s Character street~~ kawaii everywhere. This is definitely a good place for finding some of your favorite character goods. I, of course, went to the Moomin and Aggressive Ritsuko shops.

The next morning, we ate our disappointing hotel breakfast and went to Asakusa 浅草 to Senso-ji (shrine) 浅草寺. I have been here a few times, and morning is by far the best. None of the hawkers are open and only a few tourists visit this time of day, so it is quiet and peaceful. My husband showed MIL how to draw fortunes the traditional way.

I enjoyed the ukiyo-e 浮世絵 painted shutters (“picture scrolls”) on the small retail shops outside the shrine area in the Nakamise shopping district. These can only be enjoyed while the shops are closed– so after 8pm and before about 10 am. Honestly, I could have spent a lot more time here just looking at all of these! But we were headed nearby towards Kappabashi dougugai かっぱ橋道具街, a.k.a. “Kitchen Town,” in Taito.

As we walked, Tokyo Sky Tree was easily visible in the distance. My husband and MIL enjoyed all the various kitchen wares, knives, ceramics, and such, while I mostly looked for all the kappa. I have to say, this area had everything and anything kitchen/restaurant related, even the fake food (食品サンプル shokuhin sanpuru). It was pretty fun, and some stuff was reasonably priced so if you are interested in these things it is definitely worth the trip.

At this point, it was time to shuttle off to the airport, going our separate ways. I made sure to purchase some limited edition Tokyo Banana (Banana Shake Flavor) omiyage for my coworkers.


Rainbow Coffee: レインボーコーヒー

In Nakagusuku, close to the university, there is a cafe called Rainbow Coffee レインボーコーヒー. It is a nice and cozy place with free wifi. It is a great place to study and relax.

The drink menu focuses on coffee from around the world– you can get drip coffee, espresso drinks, and even tea. I also like the “cup cake”. No, not “cupcake”, but “cup cake”… which here means a pancake in a cup. With syrup and lots of cream. They are all pretty good, even if not good for you! Plus you can get a half-size with the lunch entrees, which are all reasonably priced for about 1000yen. They open for breakfast as well (9am). A nice spot to stop at when you are in the RyuDai 琉球大学 area.


Kushikatsu in Okinawa: 串カツ

串カツ kushikatsu: fried skewers.

I wrote previously about kushi-ya 串屋 establishments in general. Skewers of all types are fairly popular izakaya food. But Okinawa does have a few specific kushikatsu restaurants. Kushikatsu is actually considered a Kansai region food.

I will introduce 2 well-known kushikatsu restaurants in Okinawa; there are some more, smaller establishments about if you happen upon them.

First is Tanaka 田中, a chain from Osaka. It is located in Urasoe (P’s Square), with plenty of parking. They have a lot of my favorites, including garlic, shishito (small green peppers), benishouga (pickled ginger), shiitake, lotus root… plus meats for the meat eaters. The skewer prices are not too bad, but the drinks seem a bit high (though they do have nomihoudai 飲み放題 plans if you plan to drink a lot). And to be honest, I can’t imagine eating kushikatsu without beer to wash it down. They even have a a super-spicy tonkatsu-like sauce on the tables… it specifically says not for children on the label! By the way, you can order this sauce on Amazon Japan.

Next up is Monogatari 串家物語. This one is all-you-can-eat (tabehoudai 食べ放題), located on the 5th floor of Rycom Mall in Kitanakagusuku. The price is pretty cheap considering it is AYCE, and the quality is pretty good overall. Not only is it tabehoudai, you also fry them at your table. Every table has a built in fryer, and you go up to the bar to choose your items for frying, as well sauces for dipping. You also get a bowl with batter and one with breadcrumbs. It is fun to fry at your table; just don’t wear nice clothes because the smell will cling to them! Besides fried food, there is also a chocolate fountain, soft serve, and some other side items. We first ate at this chain in Kobe before it opened in Okinawa. When it opened in Okinawa, my husband immediately wanted to go there for his birthday lunch.