The Death Taco Rice plate at Hapi Tapi in Onna Village is a generous serving of food and plenty of hot sauce. Photos by Shoji Kudaka

The Death Taco Rice plate at Hapi Tapi in Onna Village is a generous serving of food and plenty of hot sauce. Photos by Shoji Kudaka ()

It was by accident that we stumbled across Café & Bar HAPI TAPI. On our way back from a snorkeling tour at Blue Cave, we were headed to a sandwich joint in Onna Village, but their parking was full. Instead, we drove a block down to a different restaurant inside thatt could have easily been just another nice beach house on this stretch of road.

The exterior gave a subdued mood, but one step inside and its interiors adorned with pop-culture artifacts and furniture defied my predictions. Hapi Tapi brings a cool surf culture scene reminiscent of the West Coast or Hawaii. In a cool relaxing vibe, customers enjoyed food and drinks; a lot them appeared to be tourists curious about this place as well.

To match that relaxed vibe, HAPI TAPI has a simple menu with a few different taco rice options. “Vege Taco Rice”, “BLT Taco Rice”, “Tapico Chicken Taco Rice”, and their specialty – “Death Taco Rice,” make up the cafe’s offerings. As a spicy food lover, I had to try the taste of “death” even though I’d had my fill of thrill and adventure from the snorkeling earlier.

Death taco rice’s presentation was interesting to look at as the cook had taken extra care to stack up all the ingredients flawlessly. Rice made up the center of the plate with ground beef on top. Chopped lettuce, tomato, cheese and tortilla surrounded the rice, made the dish look like a flower. An eye-popping orange sauce topped the ingredients and a sausage on a bone made up the cherry on top of a dish I would quickly devour.

The orange sauce was quite spicy with a nice touch of sweetness. The sausage had some kick, too, but it was more of a slow burn, testing my tasting buds with a different tone of spiciness. The hot tastes kicked in the moment I had my first bite and kept my mouth burning during the meal. As a spicy food enthusiast, this was not the hottest taste I’d ever experienced, but the taco rice did bring the heat.

My friend opted for the chicken taco rice, which much to her delight was standard taco rice with a side Caesar salad and a large side of karaage, or fried chicken, smothered with teriyaki sauce. She’d never tried Okinawa-style taco rice, but said it reminded her of her mom’s cooking back home in Texas. She enjoyed the crunch of the karaage and said the sauce gave it a nice flavor as well. Her lunch plate was a nice sampler of a little bit of everything that didn’t overwhelm, she said.

Where HAPI TAPI’s small, yet tasty, food menu is lacking, it makes up for it in its drink menu, where the shop truly shines. Featuring dozens of teas, smoothies and coffees to cool off in the hot Okinawa weather, patrons are also given the option to add extra Boba tapioca balls on top of what already comes in nearly every concoction for an additional fee.

To help wash down the taste of “death,” I went with the “Blue Cave Soda,” fitting considering I’d just explored the real thing that morning. This non-alcoholic cocktail with Blue Hawaii [what is this?], aloe, lemon, and tapioca balls cooled me down with its fresh taste and nice presentation. The layered drink reminded me of the ocean and the cave. The tapioca balls soaked in the drink tasted like grapes. Looking back at the dark colored tapioca balls bouncing in the cocktail, reminded me of the shadows of small fish moving in the emerald blue waters of the cave.

My friend opted for the “Sexy chocolate,” a chocolate shake topped with whipped cream and Oreo cookie garnish. She liked the chocolate flavor and cookies, but said she was not a fan of the surprise tapioca balls mixed into her drink.

Just like swimming under the hot Okinawan sun and exploring Blue Cave, HAPI TAPI’s spicy taco rice and cool cocktail were just as refreshing. The “Death Taco Rice” made me feel more alive and was just the infusion of energy to move on to the next adventure.

Café and Bar HAPI TAPI

Address: 323 Yamada, Onna-son, Kunigami-gun, Okinawa 904 GPS Coordinates: N 26.438172, E 127.774983 Hours: 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. (Closed on Mondays and Tuesdays) Tell: 080-3857-9867 URL: Facebook: Instagram: *Limited parking. Plan ahead as it gets busy during the lunch hours. *The café space and staff are small. Be prepared to wait for a table and a little longer for orders. *Wi-Fi is not currently available.

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