Okinawa: Eating Our Way Through the Last Stretch

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Cafe Pipineo is about 10 minutes from my apartment and serves the most luscious cinnamon rolls I’ve ever had my whole life.

Welp! We are just about 6 weeks from our presumed rotation date, and the Marines still haven’t given us orders for the next assignment. Never mind that pretty much everyone else in our lives knows where they are going. Chuck and I are masters of the “hurry up and wait” philosophy, at this point. That said, I continue to assume that we will depart Okinawa this spring. With our time here drawing to a close, I am hoping we can squeeze a few more adventures into our remaining weeks – however big or small.

One thing I will surely miss are the darling cafés that dot the island.  They typically offer just 2-4 menu items at any given time, which sounds limiting but actually ensures a more memorable culinary experience. Of course, the ingredients are always fresh and local, and the décor is consistently unique and charming.

I won’t mind having more options (especially vegetarian and/or gluten free) when I return to the States, but I don’t know what I’ll do without a hearty guarantee of savory Japanese curry, garnished with local vegetables known to bless Okinawans with the longest lifespans on the planet.… 

One recent experience was the GreenMama, which is part restaurant, part garden nursery, and only a few minutes’ walk from my house. I wish I had discovered it sooner!

Another was Bakery Suien in Yomitan, which was tucked away in a neighborhood that had adorable dogs, cats, and donkeys wandering the property. Bakery Suien is primarily a bread and pastry shop, with a limited (but delicious) lunch menu. I throughly enjoyed my vegan, cauliflower tartare sandwich before dropping another ¥2500 on pastries.

One of my favorite Okinawa adventures to date is Chuck’s and my excursion to Ta-Taki Falls, on the northern end of the island. I had no idea that the “hike” was a straight up aquatic adventure, where our trail was literally… the river. Grateful that I wore athletic, partially waterproof gear (due to impending rain showers that never happened), I perched my iPhone into my cleavage and went for it. Better yet, we enjoyed a delicious meal on top of a mountain at the Anettaichaya Hammock Garden Café. We weren’t lucky enough to score a hut with a hammock, but our views were truly spellbinding (as was the food.)

Finally, I want to talk about Café Ichara and the Yohena Ajisai, or Hydrangea Garden. My dear friend Sally and I were bored one weekend, but our husbands (who, I grant you, work long, hard hours) were more content playing video games than going on an island img_2116adventure. Sally and I are nature lovers, so we were curious about the Hydrangea Gardens
up north (all the good stuff is up north.)

Yohena is named after the owner, Mrs. Uto Yohena, an elderly woman in her late nineties. Her garden was originally  a tangerine field until a few decades ago, when she started planting hydrangeas. The garden was opened to the public in 2001, and the flowers bloom from mid-May until the end of June. It’s truly a sight to behold.

On our way back, we had worked up an appetite and stumbled upon Café Ichara. It was basically like having lunch in a tree house nestled in the rainforest. The menu was primarily curry and pizza. You’d actually be surprised how common pizza is on menus here, usually oozing with hot camembert cheese….  Sally and I got one of each and split the goods 🙂

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I could go on for a while talking about cafés and restaurants in Okinawa, and the crazy thing is, I haven’t tried even a fraction of them. How quickly can I gorge my way through the remainder before I leave?! Or shall I simply revisit old favorites?

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