Summer in Okinawa can get pretty hot and humid. What better way to refresh than with sudachi udon? Citrusy, salty, and cold.
Sans Souci in Kitanakagusuku is a Ryukyu x Kyoto style cafe. It is no secret… everybody knows about this place! This cafe is listed in all the cafe books and travel guides for a good reason… the food is delicious! There is udon, both hot and cold, as well as a few other dishes, cafe drinks, and several Japanese style sweets options.
During summer time only they also serve sudachi udon, which is exactly what I needed today. The lunch set comes with a drinn, too.
For dessert I of course had the matcha mini parfait. It was so good… tons of matcha flavor layers.
The price is a bit high, 1550円 total, but definitely worth it for the high quality food at this trendy cafe.
Recently, a new Japanese sweets shop has opened up in Kishaba (Kitanakagusuku, central) called Yoyo an factory. As like others, it is located in the back of a small neighborhood with narrow roads. There are hardly any signs outside the house marking it, but you will see some plain white-ish shop flags in front of the door. There is space for probably about 5-6 cars to park.
Walk up the concrete stairs and step inside the old converted US military house. Inside, it is very organic and simple feeling, but very beautiful in its simplicity. There are some old wooden Japanese candy molds on display, with various shapes and designs.
You can get dorayaki and daifuku (160 yen each) to go, or you can eat-in with a drink. Your choice of drinks are coffee, ice tea, and matcha (500yen). I ordered a matcha with 1 dorayaki and 1 daifuku, with tax the total was nearly 900yen. An average price for these types of things, though maybe a little bit high. Everything was really good though. I think this was a really nice space to take a tea break, and the location is very good. If you live in Okinawa and want to try some Japanese style confections, this is a lovely place to do so.
A short introduction to “wagashi,” meaning Japanese sweets. There are many types, so let me review a few of the common ones. This focuses on Japanese sweets not Okinawan sweets, though it is possible to find most of these in Okinawa. Many of these are the perfect accompaniments to tea, especially matcha 抹茶. I will try to make posts about each of these individually at some point, but for now here is a brief description of each.
Nama-gashi 生菓子: these are fresh, delicate sweets, only lasting 1-2 days. The fillings, shapes and designs vary by the seasons and regions. If you click on the link, you can find out a little bit more about them in my previous blog post, and some places to find them.
daifuku 大福: soft mochi wrapped around sweet bean paste or other fillings, covered with a light dusting of starch to keep them from sticking together. A popular type of daifuku type is strawberry (ichigo 苺). You can even find ice cream filled daifuku in the freezer of most conbini.
dorayaki どら焼き: 2 light, sweet “pancakes” typically with red bean paste in between. Do not mix these up with hotcakes ホットケーキ which are western and serve with syrup.
ohagi おはぎ: cooked glutinous rice with red bean paste (or sometimes other toppings such as sesame or kinako) on the outside. Typically served during Autumn. The Spring version is called botamochi.
dango 団子or だんご: small pieces of steamed mochi dumplings, often served on a stick. Hanami dango 花見団子 is a very popular type, with color of pink, white, and green. Sometimes served with toppings such as mitarashi dango (sweet shoyu), goma (black sesame seed), anko (red bean paste), etc.
manjuu 饅頭 or まんじゅう: small “buns” that are either steamed or baked, filled with sweet bean paste or other sweet filling. Manjuu encompasses many different types of buns, so you will see a lot of variation. The one above is a stuffed pastry manjuu from an onsen town.
taiyaki たい焼き: fish-shaped pancake-like pastry with filling, traditionally red bean, but many flavors can be found such as custard, kinako, chocolate, and more.
youkan 羊羹: sort of sweet, firm, jelly-like confection made from sugar and agar (kanten かんてん). Travels well, so it is often a popular omiyage.
monaka 最中 or もなか: a wafer shell filled with sweet bean paste; the shells can come in different shapes and sizes. A popular modern variation of monaka is filled with ice cream, easy to find at the conbini! (I do not seem to have a picture of this one! mmm maybe that means it is time for a snack…)
sakura mochi (Kansai-style) 桜餅: mochi rice dyed pink and sweetened with red bean paste inside, wrapped with a sakura (cherry blossom) leaf. It is traditionally eaten in spring during sakura season and Girls’ Day (March 3rd). You can eat the leaf or not eat the leaf; from I have heard there is no actual rule regarding this, though the leaf is edible– don’t let anyone tell you are doing it wrong!
warabi mochi わらび餅: jelly-like, similar to mochi, but made from warabi (bracken) starch. It is a little chewy and soft. It is usually covered in kinako or matcha powder.
higashi 干菓子: known as “dry sweets,” or sweets with little to no moisture content. Sometimes this is a glutinous rice flour, sugar and starch mixture or a wasanbon sugar pressed in molds to form dry sweets. Rakugan 落雁, used during ceremonies and obon, also fall under this category.
Miyabi Teahouse Nakamoto みやび茶屋仲元 is a small tea house located in Okinawa city, off a back alley from Rt. 330 past the Rycom mall. You might not realize it exists, unless you recognize the hiragana for dorayaki どらやき on a purple flag in the alley and then think to follow it down an even more narrow alley to a parking lot leading to what appears to be an unmarked house except for the Okinawa City Omotenashi (おもてなし “hospitality”) flag outside the door.
Anyhow, it is a teahouse, leave your shoes at the door and enter the tatami room; during lunch they have some light meals, and during tea time you can order tea, coffee, ohagi, dorayaki, hot zenzai, and Okinawa ice zenzai. My quest in coming here was mainly to try the ohagi おはぎ.
Ohagi is named for the autumn flower, hagi (bush clover). In spring, this same dessert is called botamochi ぼたもち which is named after the spring flower, botan (peony). It is most commonly eaten during the Autumn and Spring Equinoxes.
Ohagi is sweet mochi rice with an azuki bean paste around the outside, although there are variations. This place had kinako (roasted soy flour) outside with anko (red azuki bean paste) inside, sesame outside with anko inside, as well as the typical anko outside and anko inside kinds. My husband and I ordered an ohagi set and a dorayaki set to share between us, so we ended up with 1 of each type, plus 2 dorayaki, and 2 matchas. What a nice experience. The owners were surprised to see Americans (at least by themselves and not accompanied by Japanese), and asked us how we found out about it and where we were from, etc. I explained about the Okinawa cafe book I purchased awhile back from the bookstore. The menu is in Japanese, but it seemed like the wife spoke some English, so I would not worry about trying this place out if you have trouble with Japanese language.