Okinawa's Happy Café a bright spot on quiet side of island
For many people on Okinawa, Motobu Peninsula is a destination for a getaway. There are notable tourist spots such as Churaumi Aquarium, Mount Yaedake, and Bise Fukugi Street in Motobu Town, which takes up the west side of the peninsula.
Meanwhile, the east side, where Nakijin Village is located, may look quieter when it comes to tourism. The Nakijin Tourism Association humorously describes the village by saying, “Noon nen shiga, Nakijin,” which means “Although Nakijin doesn’t have anything…” But in fact, this modest village has something special.
Happy Café sits on a hill that overlooks the northern coastline of Motobu Peninsula. People who go there may be surprised at finding a fancy café in the hilly area. On the outside, it looks like a modern house. Take one step inside, a stylish interior with white walls and dark brown furniture welcomes visitors with relaxed but upscale feel. The cool atmosphere almost sets this place apart from the surrounding rural areas, and the traditional pottery along the wall adds a local vibe to the place.
This mixture of urban style and local taste can be found in the food they serve up. The hamburger, a popular menu item, is cooked with 100% ground beef locally produced. The smooth sweetness of the fresh beef stands out when it is coupled with demiglace sauce which has tastes like tomato sauce with a subtle sweetness.
Other menu items include curry rice, mango pancakes and tomato-stewed chicken, which follows their concept of “seasonal local foods to entertain everybody from couples to families.”
When the weather is nice, seats on the terrace are a great place to enjoy the fine food. The clear view of the ocean or that of Izena and Iheya Islands in the distance can make a dining experience very special.
This place is a hidden gem in its true sense. Having debuted in 2017, it is still new to many people including locals. While I was having a lunch there, I could hear local customers at the terrace who were amazed by the fact that a place like this existed in the local area.
“We opened this place last year and we have not yet made a lot of effort in advertising yet,” said Mr. Fueda, a staffer.
Just like other parts of the village, the café may not be well known at this point, but after enjoying the cool mood, tasty food, and the lovely view, this place felt destined to bring more people to the modest side of the peninsula.