Get your eat on at vegan junk deli Rock the Casbah
Editor's note: The store was closed down on December 25, 2013.
Something located in such a depressing strip mall should not be such a delight.
Okinawa City's shotengai (outdoor shopping arcade) has certainly seen better days. Half the storefronts were shuttered when we were there, and most of the remaining shops have a desultory, dingy aspect. Casbah and its attached shop Kozy Corner stands out in sharp contrast, with a clean, bright facade and a modern feel.
In the cafe, food is laid out buffet-style, and diners pick up a tray and pick and choose from a dozen or more tantalizing options, all labeled. We chose from Thai curry, spicy pasta, okra stir fry, pilaf, Morroccan lentils and many more. Okinawan vegetables also feature prominently in the menu. I piled my plate high with the bits and bobs of all the things that looked most delicious.
After taking all that my enormous eyes fancied, the cashier weighed my plate and totted it up: less than a thousand yen for a plate loaded with a big variety of food (food is two yen per gram and soup is one yen per gram). We chatted with the chef as she brought out water and free tea; Sayoko has impeccable English and was happy to talk with us about the shop and the food.
After eating in the bright cafe side (plate glass windows front the spacious shop, letting in lots of natural light), we wandered through the Kozy Central shop side. Next to the kitchen and dining room is a small selection of food products like grains and spices. Farther over, the shop boasts a mish mash of design-y stuff: clothes, knick-knacks, stationary, aprons, art objects, etc.
The cafe is best visited for lunch, as it closes at 7 p.m. and goes into "tea time" mode (limited menu) at 4 p.m.
Though free wi-fi might encourage you to lounge, you can also take it to go if you're in a rush. People bringing their own take out container can get a small discount (20 yen) though please let the staff know in advance of putting in food so they can weigh your container for tare.