Fabulous views and beautiful scenery are relatively easy to come by in Okinawa. A more challenging task is locating sensational restaurants with backdrops that you will never forget. The main island of Okinawa is filled with family owned cafes and restaurants. The trick is finding them because many are in the most peculiar spots. Sunday drives can be particularly exciting for this very reason. A random sign pointing up a hillside can take you to a place that you could have never imagined existed on Okinawa. These two restaurants are worthy of you hopping on a plane using the ANA special fare of 10,500 yen that allows you to fly anywhere in Japan, including Okinawa!
This place is easily my favorite Thai restaurant on the island. It has mouthwatering food, gorgeous views and dinosaur bones. Yes, if there is a wait, you might be spending your time staring at the bones of prehistoric creatures. You may think that a restaurant crazy enough to have a dinosaur exhibit would be popular because of its eccentricities. This is not true. People come to this place for the food. The view is amazing but plenty of other cafes in the area have wonderful views. The reason Cafe Curcuma is busy with happy customers every time I go is because of what is coming out of the kitchen. It’s the best tasting Thai food I have ever had and this sentiment is readily agreed upon by every new person I introduce to it.
There are several tips that you should remember when you attempt to visit Cafe Curcuma. I did say “attempt” because the stories of people trying to find it are legendary. The first tip is either use a reliable GPS system or take a taxi. Locating the restaurant is like a challenge on the Amazing Race. I always see taxis out front, so this is a popular option. Next, pay strict attention to the number of chilies each dish receives on their menu. Cafe Curcuma’s menu happens to also be in English, so don’t make the rookie mistake of being over-confident. When they say spicy, they mean spicy. My last tip is to make sure that you go with an appetite. Japan is the land of smaller portions but this place is the exception to the rule. You will never leave hungry. Prices are reasonable and the dining area inside is non-smoking.
Pizza Cafe Kajinhou
My experience with pizza in Japan is hit or miss. Sometimes Asian fusion just doesn’t work with pizza. I remember having the nightmarish toppings of raw cabbage and eggs on a slice in Nagano. We can call that a miss. In Okinawa, the pizza is generally very good. If you stay here for any amount of time, you will quickly learn that the best slice on the island is from Pizza Cafe Kajinhou, which is lovingly nicknamed “Pizza in the Sky” by foreigners. The restaurant is set in a traditional style Okinawan house high up on a mountain which gives customers some of the most beautiful views in Okinawa. You can see stunning sunsets, turquoise water, and Iejima, Sesoko, and Minna-jima islands. Kajinhou is located near the Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium, so it makes for the perfect meal before or after your visit.
The menus that are also in English are written on traditional Japanese fans, which is a nice touch and can also help you beat the heat in this open air restaurant. Your choices are a small pizza or a medium pizza each with six toppings. If pepperoni, sausage, onions, ham, green peppers, or the infamous corn toppings don’t seem like your cup of tea, you can ask to have all or some removed. The pizza pie made using natural spring water will be flavorful no matter what combination you choose. They also have a salad, cut mango, and a variety of beverages to choose from.
Pizza Cafe Kajinhou is not for the impatient, directionally challenged, or people who dislike being around nature. There will be a worthwhile wait as this place is extremely popular and was recently featured on a national television network in Japan. Another potential complication is directions. You need to keep an eye out for Italian styled signs when driving here. They will be your guide as well as your best chance for locating Pizza in the Sky in a reasonable amount of time. Lastly, nature lovers and people who like to eat outside will really enjoy themselves. If you are taking someone who has a fear of butterflies or UFOB’s (Unidentified Flying Okinawa Bugs), you can still go but try to take your pizza adventure on a windy day. Just don’t go on a Tuesday or Wednesday because they are closed.
By Stan Byme