Okinawa Eats: Seaside Terrace


Okinawa Eats Nov 2014, Seaside Terrace, Dining Cafe Seaside Terrace

You can take a candy but they won't take your card

You can take a candy but they won’t take your card

Ambiance:  Recently opened (2012), contemporary finer-dining eatery located along Sunabe Seawall in Miyagi, Chatan-cho.

Service:  A small establishment which prides itself on fresh food perfectly cooked-to-order, which means the wait times can be, if busy, longer than what you may be accustomed to, but which is well worth the culinary adventure awaiting you when finally served.  The friendliness and personal attentiveness of the staff is superb.  The maximum group size accepted is six persons; reservations are highly encouraged for groups of 4 or more in order to ensure prompt service.

Food Quality:  Above-Average to Excellent.

Features:  Quaint eatery with conditioned indoor and shaded outdoor seating.  Romantic atmosphere, but kid- and pet-friendly.  An affable and engaging chat with Chef and Owner Taka-san is a highlight of any visit!

Cuisine:  Japanese-fusion, with a weighty European (Italian) spin.  The clearly American-influenced breakfast selections are hearty and filling, and they proudly proclaim they serve “Okinawa’s #1 Fish & Chips”!

Price/Value:  Above Average to Excellent.

Okinawa Eats Nov 2014, Seaside Terrace, Welcome

Yes, it’s hard making your way in the world today.  It can take everything you’ve got. Taking a break from all your worries sure would help a lot.  Wouldn’t you like to get away?  Where everybody knows your name, and they’re always glad you came?

Cat Friendly

Cat Friendly

If that’s you then sometimes you may want to toast “Cheers!” at Seaside Terrace!  A local restaurant with no pretenses and the friendliest staff around.  And yes, they – Taka-san and Christy both know our name there.

Okinawa Eats Nov 2014, Seaside Terrace, inviting atmosphere

Okinawa Eats Nov 2014, Seaside Terrace, Chef's SpecialFinding little gems along Sunabe Seawall is a favorite pastime for me and my wife.  Walking the wall to and from these eateries not only settles our full bellies, but also negates the potential for “trouble” involving the mixing of adult beverages and automobiles.  But it is just the serenely peaceful and stunning views of the East China Sea, especially during our sea-breeze cooled, coral-colored autumnal sunsets, that makes this place so…special.  Taka-san’s Seaside Terrace sparkles in this regard, offering indoor Contemporary European-sheik seating amidst a relaxing, romantic atmosphere, outdoor garden-inspired and umbrella shaded accommodations, and although it doesn’t offer views of the ocean, it’s literally across the street from the seawall.

Okinawa Eats Nov 2014, Seaside Terrace, Welcome

Okinawa Eats Nov 2014, Seaside Terrace, Chai-latteOkinawa Eats Nov 2014, Seaside Terrace, interesting accoutramentsWhen we first discovered the Seaside Terrace, Taka-san was running two eateries (the other, Seaside Café, located near Araha Beach), and was open for dinner.  However, to our sad disappointment, dinner is no longer served here.  The menu is heavily influenced by Taka-san’s classical European culinary training, especially in the Italian dishes he offers.  However, although we continue to ask him about his opening again for dinner, the bistro remains opens only for breakfast, lunch, and everything and anything in-between until 1700 (last order 1600).

Kid-Friendly Books

Kid-Friendly Too

Okinawa Eats Nov 2014, Seaside Terrace, contemporary seatingHowever, it is in his breakfast options where Seaside Terrace really shines, particularly in their special “desert” French toast that is, in my wife’s opinion, the only way to truly eat breakfast.  Scrumptious French toast, topped with ice cream, capped with banana, drizzled with both chocolate and caramel sauces, topped with whipped cream and then finished with frozen fresh fruit?  What’s not to like about that! The menu, however, offers a full range of lunch options, including appetizers and salads.

The only way to do breakfast...served all day!

The only way to do breakfast…served all day!

Okinawa Eats Nov 2014, Seaside Terrace, intimate seating

Have you heard about their Fish & Chips?!?

Have you heard about their Fish & Chips?!?

This café offers a relaxed, quaint, and welcoming dining experience.  The food is prepared from scratch using fresh ingredients, and is crafted with care and presented with the personal pride of the owner.  There is limited seating, with a maximum capacity of somewhere around 12 inside and 12 outside.  The layout provides an advantageous space for small groups of friends, family or coworkers to gather and enjoy comforting company along with a fabulous meal.  Please note, however, that there is only one chef, working a small kitchen fashioning each meal to order, so be patient.  In fact, Seaside Terrace only takes groups of 6 maximum, and if you have 4 or more, Taka-san highly encourages reservations.  The food and service are worth it; the contemporary surroundings and the soft, sensual soundtrack make any type of wait relaxing and enjoyable.  Be forewarned:  on Sundays during brunch hours and on major American holidays (like Mother’s Day), the joint can be hopping!

Their prettiest customer.

Their prettiest customer.

Okinawa Eats Nov 2014, Seaside Terrace, breakfast served all dayThe pasta sets are large and indulgent, and I’m told that Taka-san has perfected his very own delightful trademark sauce over the years.  Having eaten here more than a few times now, we find ourselves being friends and neighbors to the staff…of two!  The owner is friendly and proud, and he always greets and chats with us whenever he has time.  Christy, the half-Japanese, half-Filipino hostess/waitress is studying English, so be sure to chat her up.  One of the finer aspects of eating with Taka-san is the personal indulgence one feels in having a 5-star chef cook just for you.

Owner & Chef Taka-san; tell him the Kings sent you!

Owner & Chef Taka-san; tell him the Kings sent you!

Okinawa Eats Nov 2014, Seaside Terrace, afternoon specialOkinawa Eats Nov 2014, Seaside Terrace, Chef's specialsIn addition to the standard (yet scrumptious) menu fare are the specials listed daily on two blackboards.  And don’t forget the bar service, although without dinner entrees the drinks offered have been somewhat reduced.  One of my and Jody’s favorite cocktails ever were enjoyed here – the Moulin Rouge – and we liked them so much we brought our own bottle of Cassis to Taka-san and had four of them made to go with our afternoon brunch!  They were delightfully surprised at our throw-back to last year’s menu; we were sensuously satisfied with the playfulness of the frozen fruit, Casis and whatever other concoctions were stirred into that brew.  Ask for the drink when you’re there; perhaps with enough demand he’ll put it back on the menu!

Okinawa Eats Nov 2014, Seaside Terrace, always a way to open a door

Taka-san has always dreamed of operating a high-end American-Japanese fusion restaurant.  And he is off to a wonderful start on achieving that goal.  He and his staff are more than willing to make sure you have a truly indulgent dining experience.

Hopefully this won't greet you in the window....

Hopefully this won’t greet you in the window….

Check it out for yourself.  And be sure to tell them your name.  Cheers!!

An open and welcoming door.

An open and welcoming door.

Directions (from Kadena Gate 1):  On Route 58 heading south make first right at the first light (Family Mart).  Travel west to the 3rd light (which is the last light before hitting the Seawall), turn left.  Head south two blocks and turn right at the signage for the Sunabe Smile Dental Clinic.  Go all the way to the seawall and turn right (the seawall road here is one-way).  Traveling one short block along the seawall, look to your right and you’ll see a large billboard for Seaside Terrace.  Although there is some parking across the side-street, it is best to park along the seawall here.

Phone: 098-936-2556

Hours:  Closed Tuesdays, open 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. weekdays and 8:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. weekends.  Reservations are suggested.

Payment:  Cash-only, Yen or U.S. Dollars

Website:  www.facebook.com/SeasideTerrace

Okinawa Eats: Kupu Kupu Pancake Factory


I'm not sure what dwarves have to do with pancakes....

I’m not sure what dwarves have to do with pancakes….

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.

Okinawa Eats April 2014, Kupu Kupu, counter decorations

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.

Jody was IN LOVE with this no-longer-offered dish....

Jody was IN LOVE with this no-longer-offered dish….

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.

Okinawa Eats April 2014, Kupu Kupu, Elvis has not left this building

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.

Okinawa Eats April 2014, Kupu Kupu, picture windows

Okinawa Eats 2031, Kupu Kupu, The Battleship pancake stack for twoOkinawa Eats 2031, Kupu Kupu, Love Boat pancake stackBut 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!

Kupu-Kupu-menu-2

Okinawa Eats April 2014, Kupu Kupu, 1950s decorOkinawa Eats April 2014, Kupu Kupu, open under new managementMy 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.

Okinawa Eats April 2014, Kupu Kupu, american-style retro tabletop games

Okinawa Eats 2031, Kupu Kupu, relatively hidden entranceOkinawa Eats April 2014, Kupu Kupu, scarlet letter Grade AKupu 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.

Okinawa Eats 2031, Kupu Kupu, inside interesting decor

Phone: 080-3229-7352

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.

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Becoming a Fixture at the Transit Café; A Restaurant Review


Not This Kind of Transit Spaghetti

Not This Kind of Transit Spaghetti

Transit Café:  2-220-2F Miyagi, Chatan, Okinawa; 098-936-5076; Open Lunch 1100-1600, Dinner 1700-2330.

Ambiance:  Very Good; indoor smoking is allowed during meals

Service:  Very Good

Cocktails:  Outstanding; wide range of international cocktails; the drinks alone are worth visiting!

Food Quality:  Very Good.

Features:  indoor eat-at bar counter, outdoor bar, late lunch, pet-friendly (terrace only), set lunch, sweets, terrace seats (limited), tropical cocktails, wide variety of alcoholic beverages.  Located across the street from Sunabe Seawall with terrific scenic views.  English menu available; credit cards accepted.  Due to limited seating, reservations are HIGHLY encouraged.  The establishment is not very kid-friendly, in terms of space, ambiance, and meals/food selection.

Cuisine:  International Café Fare; Japanese & Okinawan; tapas-style plates with mains available.

Price/Value:  Expensive but Exceptional!

Trendy Ambiance at the Transit

Trendy Ambiance at the Transit

“A thought is an idea in transit.” ~Pythagoras

“It is safest to take the unpopular side in the first instance. Transit from the unpopular is easy… but from the popular to the unpopular is so steep and rugged that it is impossible to maintain it.” ~William Lamb Melbourne

Fresh Food, Fresh Air, Fresh Ambiance

Fresh Food, Fresh Air, Fresh Ambiance

Lucky for us, the thought of grabbing a bite to eat at the Transit Café is still a very popular idea.  I am so very happy that the Transit has survived the ravages of time and fickleness of people.  It, however, remains as trendy and with even better service and selection that during my previous times living in Okinawa.

Eagerly Awaiting our Next Cocktail Creation at the Indoor Bar

Eagerly Awaiting our Next Cocktail Creation at the Indoor Bar

The Staff Really are this Cool - and Good

The Staff Really are this Cool – and Good

The Transit Café was one of the first places I took Jody to help introduce her to Okinawa, Chatan Cho, and the Sunabe Seawall area.  We have been back numerous times already.  With little surprise, we found the place packed regardless of time or day.  Reservations are a must here if you want to sit at a table, inside or out; bar seating, however, is most likely available for a small party (2-4), and provides an intimate relationship with the staff and cooks.

Seating is Limited; Make a Reservation

Seating is Limited; Make a Reservation

Drink Selections...From Miami??

Drink Selections…From Miami??

The food at Transit changes slightly based on availability of ingredients, but they typically always have certain signature dishes.  One of our favorites is their version of “cheese fondue.”  This can be ordered with a few options, but the one we’ve settled on is the larger platter, complete with meat (shrimp and chicken), assorted veggies, and bread (you can request extra, as we do) to dip.  This is a large plate of food, so be careful when ordering more!  Luckily, many of the dishes are Okinawan/Japanese-reasonable size, more akin to tapas back home, so you can order a few to share.  The mains are, as well, on the smaller side, but certainly provide more fill.

Not to Miss:  Transit Fondue!

Not to Miss: Transit Fondue!

Frozen Mojitos; Currently our Fav

Frozen Mojitos; Currently our Fav

However, I would be remiss if I didn’t comment on their cocktail selection and preparation.  The staff at the Transit Café are consummate professionals when it comes to mixed drinks; they are prepared perfectly, and presented as a feast for the eyes.  Out of all the places we’ve visited, this is the only restaurant to really provide a first-class drink experience.  In similar fashion, their desserts are at once decadent and always delightful.  Being only two blocks away, we find ourselves venturing down the street just to sample a cocktail and split a dessert….

Fondue and Frozen Mojitos

Fondue and Frozen Mojitos

Unfortunately, Smoking is Allowed

Unfortunately, Smoking is Allowed

The ambience at Transit is very peaceful and serene, with a host of international easy-listening and romantic tunes playing on their sound-system.  Transit Café is located on the 2nd floor across the street from the seawall, and if you are lucky enough to sit on the balcony (remember:  make a reservation), you will have scenic vistas of the East China Sea as it rolls in and meets and washes over Okinawa.  However, like I’ve already mentioned:  don’t discount sitting at the bar.  It’s amazing to watch the magic and choreographed dance this staff of 5 or 6 move around a combined bar and kitchen area the size of most closets in order to produce such high-quality, fabulous delectable delights.

The Transit Sits Over the Bar Next Door

The Transit Sits Over the Bar Next Door

Although Jody and I are, in essence, ultimately only transiting through Okinawa for the next three years, we will most certainly become fixtures at the Transit Café.  Visit them; you’ll be glad you did!

Trendy Music Displayed and Played

Trendy Music Displayed and Played

Website: http://www.transitcafe-okinawa.com/transit/index.html

Directions:  The Transit Café is located in Chatan on the seawall.  From Kadena Gate 1, turn left onto 58. Take your first right (GI Bill Pay and Sunny net will be in the shopping plaza on the right corner).  Follow that road straight until it dead ends at the sea wall.  Turn right and Transit will be just on your right.  Find parking where you can along the seawall.

transit-map

Breakfast at Tiffany’s (almost); Sea Glass Cafe Review


This Joke would Probably be Lost in Translation

This Joke would Probably be Lost in Translation

Sea Breeze Café Sea Glass, 2-46 Miyagi, Chatan Town,  098-936-2123

Ambiance:  Very Good

Service:  Excellent

Cocktails:  Tea & Coffee both Very Good

Food Quality:  Very Good

Features :  American-style breakfast, café fare, early morning hours, pet-friendly (outdoor terrace only), set lunch, takeout available

Cuisine :  Stylized American

Price/Value:  Very Good

Stylized American Dishes

Stylized American Dishes

Situated on the Sunabe Seawall in Chatan, Breeze Café Sea Glass opened its doors to the public on Aug. 23, 2013 and offers an oceanfront setting with stylish drinking and dining, but sadly no view of the actual ocean.  Starting at 6:00 every morning (except on Wednesdays), the café serves a wide variety of American breakfast favorites with a twist, such as pancakes, French toast, omelets, fresh fruit salads and galettes (buckwheat crepes), and delicious smoothies in 10 flavors.  In addition, a large selection of toppings and side dishes are available to customize your breakfast.  The breakfast fare and smoothies are available throughout the day, but there is also a lunch “dish of the day” which comes with an appetizer, soup, all-you-can-eat salad and bread, and a soft drink, served from 11:30 until closing.

Breakfast Harkens on the Seawall

Breakfast Harkens on the Seawall

Jody and finally took the two block walk down to get some breakfast.  The interior is very rustic in a modern way, well-appointed and comfortable in every way.  The service is good and fast, and English menus were available, while the staff spoke English well.  What at first appeared to be relatively expensive breakfast items – toast for 380 yen – quickly became obvious that you get much more than you bargain for here.  Our breakfasts both came with a savory salad, complete with a lite French-like dressing, along with very yummy tater tots, called “hash browns” per the menu.

Breakfast, More than Expected!

Breakfast, More than Expected!

My toast was the hearty thick-cut Japanese kind, and my two slices easily equaled four American pieces.  Soft butter and jam were supplied as toppings.  Jody’s French toast came prepared as two smaller pieces of what looked like baguettes; steeped in an egg concoction (but not soaked), cooked to a toasty and crunchy exterior, but with a warm, soft delicious inner core.  Jody chose fresh fruit as a topping, and a large portion of sliced, fresh fruit was provided.

Japanese "French Toast with Hash Browns"

Japanese “French Toast with Hash Browns”

There is a small deck outside where you can enjoy a relaxing morning or afternoon in the sea breeze while savoring a cup of coffee with a yummy dessert.  Just be prepared to be right on the Sunabe Seawall street, with only a view of the landward side of the newly heightened seawall.  The terrace seating area outside is pet friendly; Jody and I watched one of the servers bring out a dog dish full of water for a small furry friend visiting with its owner.  Also be aware that the terrace area is shaded much of the morning, but will take some direct sunlight in the afternoons.

Jody and I both highly recommend this café!!  We will most definitely be back, and become regulars.

Even Anime Characters Think Breakfast is the Most Important Meal

Even Anime Characters Think Breakfast is the Most Important Meal

Open 6:00-17:00, Closed Wed and 4th Thursday of every month

•$ accepted

•English menu available

•Parking available

•Pet friendly

•All food and drink items are available for takeout.

The Seawall Area of Miyagi

The Seawall Area of Miyagi