Zumi Cafe

Zumi Cafe Exterior | Okinawa Hai

CONTRIBUTED BY JORDYN PUGH

Do you miss the ambiance of diners in America? Water glasses bigger than a Dixie cup, normal napkins and jukebox music? Let’s admit, you can only eat at the on base establishments so many times before you get sick of them. Or maybe you’re a hospital staff member and are curious what you can eat after shift once the new hospital opens on Camp Foster? Well, look no further than Zumi Café, California Retro Style Diner! A brand new restaurant that opened at the beginning of September 2012 could be the answer this quest. It serves a small menu of both Japanese and American style foods, including a few sushi rolls, burgers and fish & chips baskets.

The owner is an Okinawan woman who is married to a Marine, and they just moved back to the island after being stationed in the San Diego area for a few years. While living there, Noriko worked at a sushi restaurant and got to know Americans’ tastes for different kinds of rolls and fillings and also fell in love with American retro style.

She picked a perfect location right near the new hospital in preparation for the move soon, and has decorated the entire inside of the restaurant with items she picked up at thrift shops and garage sales in California. The ambiance is wonderful and we felt welcome and at home immediately upon walking in. Noriko showed us a magazine rack where she has laid out reading material detailed towards both men and women to entertain themselves while waiting for their food. I was very content reading an issue of Good Housekeeping while my husband was immersed in some car magazine. If you’d rather not read, there are tons of things to look at on the wall, all seemingly from the late 1960’s to mid-1970’s: calendars, baking dishes, hubcaps, Tiffany style lamps, an old Coca-Cola refrigerator, street signs, military themed decoration and other household items made into wall adornments. It reminded me a little bit of Cracker Barrel.

We were served ice water in mason jars and given a quick explanation of the items on the menu. We started with the shrimp crunchy roll, which was so incredibly delicious that it was inhaled before I could get a picture of it. Noriko won’t reveal what ingredients are used to make the “crunchy” bits that the final roll is dusted with, which is probably wise since it was absolutely wonderful.

Zumi Cafe Fish & Chips | Okinawa Hai

For my lunch I went with the fish and chips plate, served in a traditional diner basket and checkered paper. The fish was perfectly seasoned and crispy, and it was served with a homemade tartar sauce. Normally I am not a fan of tartar sauce since it’s so vinegar-y, but Noriko’s version tasted great!!

Zumi Cafe Burger | Okinawa Hai

My husband got the Zumi burger, which is basically a beef patty with peanut butter, jelly and bacon slathered all over it. I was not adventurous enough to try it myself, but he said it was quite tasty.

We had a wonderful experience and will definitely be going back. We were the only SOFA status customers in there, and some local residents were sitting at 2-3 tables nearby, also seeming to enjoying their food.

Hours:  Tuesday – Saturday 11:30am-8:00pm, last order 7:45pm.  Sunday 11:30am-7:00pm, last order 6:45 pm.  Closed Mondays.

Payment: Yen only, no dollars or credit/debit cards.

Parking:  Along the street. We were told that the police do not ticket from 6am-10pm along the street, so just make sure to move your car so it’s not there overnight.

Phone:  098-911-0517

Website:  http://zumicafe.cocolog-nifty.com/ (in Japanese)

Directions:  Coming from the Legion gate on Camp Foster: Turn right onto 81, towards 58. Stay in the left lane, and start looking for a parking spot once you pass the new Naval Hospital on the right. It’ll be a couple blocks before the Tortilla Factory on the left hand side.

You have to really look for it, since it’s just a storefront and is partially covered by trees when you see it from the road.

Menu:  Click for larger views

Zumi Cafe l Okinawa Hai

 

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5 Comments
  • July 1, 2013

    My wife and I had lunch at the Zumi Cafe and met Noriko! The fish and chips were excellent as was the ambience.

    Nick Pratt
    Reply
    • July 11, 2014

      Went here today and had a burger pretty good and it was homemade! They do accept debit cards now so maybe the article should be updated.

      Erik
      Reply
  • April 24, 2013

    Hey! I’m hoping to go here tonight. I just wanted to let you know that their website and Facebook page both say they accept all major credit cards now! 🙂 I am SO looking forward to going!

    Tawna Jacobs
    Reply
  • February 14, 2013

    We went today for the first time. It was great. I had a bowl of clam chowder with grilled cheese sandwich with a side of french fries and it was all very delicious. I honestly haven’t had fries that good on Okinawa until we came to Zumi Cafe! The root beer was so good, too. We loved the atmosphere and we met Noriko-san. She’s a very nice lady and was sweet enough of bring us complimentary slivers of her cheesecake after our meal. Her decorations are so fun. If you are coming from Kadena, go straight out gate 2, take a right on 330 and follow it all the way down until you pass the Foster Legion gate (do not turn left at 81 here!) When you see the sign for 330 going left and 81 going straight, take 81 (it technically veers to the right when you look at the map.) Zumi Cafe will be on the left hand side once you pass the new hospital (which is on the right.) We are looking forward to going back.

    Shannon
    Reply
  • January 8, 2013

    My family and i love going to Zumi Cafe, Ms. Noriko is very polite and she cooks Really good food, she updates her menu items with new dishes the last time i ate there i had Clam Chowder, and my son had a grilled cheese, and the Zumi burger is so good my husband had that but i took a bite lol!

    Gaby ruiz
    Reply