Ambiance: Local establishment on the southern end of Sunabe Seawall, set with a very casual atmosphere and terrific 2nd story eat-in balcony overlooking Chatan’s marina with American Village as a distant backdrop. As is always the case along Sunabe, there is very limited parking.
Service: The service here can be oddly slow, at least for Japanese standards. It seems they get quite overwhelmed with just more than a few of their tables filled; be forewarned! But while you wait you can enjoy the fabulous views, especially if the weather is nice and you are seated outdoors.
Food Quality: Average, except for Jody’s exceptional dessert main course dish over the Christmas holidays in 2013! It’s no longer offered.
Features: Basic bench-type outdoor seating along their balcony and tables inside large picture-glass viewing windows. The inside is decorated in an American-vintage style, which I find overwhelmingly appealing. The place is kid-friendly (for sure), and an English menu is available. Dollars and Yen are both okay.
Cuisine: Breakfast pancakes and, it seems, more and more standard (and pedestrian) Japanese lunch-fare.
Price/Value: Average to below average. The Facebook review average of 4.4 is based on dated reviews; many of the more recent reviews offer some rather harsh criticism since changing ownership.
What appears to be a small family operation located at the southern extreme of the Sunabe Seawall supposedly specializes in pancakes. And although that seemed to be the case in 2013, they have rather dramatically changed their menu with a change of management, much to the chagrin of many of their customers. So, please be weary of older (and better) reviews of this eatery.
Unfortunately, since changing management, the food at Kupu Kupu has gone downhill. Quite honestly, after taking a friend back earlier in the year and being underwhelmed (again), there’s no good reason for us to return except maybe for having some coffee on their balcony.
But, I have to caveat all of this by saying this: I’m not really a big fan of breakfast. Actually, I’m harbor a complete lack of fondness for most any typical morning meals offered before the more respectable lunch time of 1030-1100. Yes, yes, I know the whole “most important meal of the day” schtick, but I’m simply not a morning person. Just ask my wife…. I’m not hungry in the morning, and extra sleep conserves calories anyway.
But for many, breakfast offers maybe a favorite dish or two, and if you fall within this camp, Kupu Kupu does offer pancakes and French toast that can be hard to find on the Okinawan economy, and better yet, they serve them up all day long. However, if you go here expecting prototypical “Western” pancakes, you may find yourself disappointed with the Japanese spin on an American breakfast staple. It seems, given the new management, that many more Japanese and Okinawan-inspired dishes are being offered, most of which have nothing to do with being a factory…which makes pancakes. In other words, they really shouldn’t expect a whole lot of Americans to go there for their garlic steak…. They did, however, offer at one time two signature dishes for the hardcore breakfast-ophiles: The Love Boat and The Battleship!
My wife and I happened upon this eatery quite by accident. Even when we saw the sign on the street, it still took us a bit to figure out exactly how to get to and in Kupu Kupu. It is located upstairs, and the stairs themselves are in an alleyway between two buildings. The actual entrance to the restaurant is oddly located on the backside of the building, and from the street it’s hard to tell there’s a restaurant there at all.
Kupu Kupu’s interior is a mix of American retro 50s swing, with a healthy dose of nautical adornments and vintage American military-related items from our long occupation here. The feel is casual and comfortable, with bright and happy colors splashed throughout. The staff, although slow, was beyond reproach, and English is spoken easily here. However, although initially very impressed with Kupu Kupu during the fall of 2013, our visits in 2014 have been far below our expectations. I simply can’t recommend this establishment…and least not right now.
Address: 15-58 Mnato Chatan Yomitan-son Nakagami-gun
Hours: Daily 9:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m., Closed on Tuesdays
Payment: Yen and U.S. dollars are accepted.
Website: Kupu Kupu Facebook Page
Directions: find the Pancake Factory near Sushi Zen and right around the corner from Sea Garden, on the seawall where it turns east towards Chatan-cho’s marina. There is good signage on the sidewalk, and there is parking lot around the block which is even more challenging to find. Kupu Kupu is located on the second floor.