“One of the very nicest things about life is the way we must regularly stop whatever it is we are doing and devote our attention to eating.”  – Luciano Pavarotti

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Salad at Pizza In The Sky

 Most days I could comfortably say that my life is predictable, even boring.  That included what I ate as well.  Or, at least that is what I use to be able to say until I discovered my love for eating out and eating off-base.  Since this is our second tour on Okinawa we knew that this was our second chance to do what we didn’t do last time.

My greatest regret, last time, was not getting off base enough.  We always talked about how much we missed the food.   We lived our cozy on-base life – in huge-to-us living quarters, conveniently located on Foster.  We both pursued our careers and spent our evenings, at home, watching T.V. (all 3 channels) and eating “boxed” foods.   To our defense, we were younger, busy working, had less to spend and we just didn’t know better.  We had a couple favorite off-base restaurants we would frequent.  Yet, looking for new and interesting places to eat wasn’t on our “to-do” list.  Fast forward 12 years and the wisdom of our 40’s have opened our eyes to a whole new world.

My mom would say eating out was ingrained in me as a young child – family influences and life experiences led me down the exciting path of eating out.  She loves to tell the story of the time I ordered coffee at the wee age of 5 and the waitress didn’t know what to do with me – I got the coffee.  Though that was long ago it was the beginning of my desire to eat anything that wasn’t made in a home kitchen.  I was being prepared for life on a tropical island with so many eating-out-eating-off-base options.

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Lunch at Brilliante – can you guess what that purple soup is?

“To be tempted and indulged by the city’s most brilliant chefs. It’s the dream of every one of us in love with food.” -Gael Greene

Eating out doesn’t have to be expensive or overwhelming.  You don’t have to be brave or good with directions to explore the wonderful world of sushi, soba, Beni imo ice cream or brown sugar cotton candy.  All you need is the desire to try something new, usually some yen and at least one friend who likes to drive.  Someone with good navigational skills is ideal.

I was recently talking to a friend about eating off base and her reason for not doing so is the language barrier and not knowing what to order.  My solution – take a friend who knows what to order and begin exploring the wonderful flavors created here by local chefs, chefs who have moved to Okinawa from other foreign lands and even Americans who now call Okinawa home.  Our desire, here on Okinawa Hai, is to entice you to get out and experience all that this local culture has to offer.  This is your little push!


Dasha and her family just after enjoying Italian food at Marino’s

“Dining with one’s friends and beloved family is certainly one of life’s primal and most innocent delights, one that is both soul-satisfying and eternal.” Julia Child

I’m not as brave as I sound.  I rarely go somewhere to eat that hasn’t already been explored by someone else.  This guarantees I’m not going to be disappointed because I ordered something that was lost-in-translation and comes out of the kitchen not looking anything like I expected.  This is also why most of the off-base menus are in English or at least have pictures that you can point to.  Our local hosts want us to come in and feel welcomed and leave satisfied!

“One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well.” -Virginia Woolf

What is the most interesting food or meal that you have enjoyed or maybe haven’t enjoyed here in Okinawa?  Have you enjoyed corn on your pizza?  Or eaten squid ink pizza at Marino’s?  Or had the distinct pleasure of eating pancakes and sushi, at the same time, while enjoying the charming environment of Su Su Soon?


Several dishes from Thai in the Sky – Cafe Caracuma

Share your most interesting food experience and where you ate it and we’ll see who can top who while we eat our way through our tours here on Okinawa!

Happy Eating and exploring!


  1. Daniela, I second your thoughts. Hanahou’s is delicious and fresh and convenient for people who live in Yomitan or Zampa area. Their spicey Edaname, cole slaw, garlic fries, taco rice, chicken, hawaiian pizza and spicy tuna are our favorites. Prices are average for Japan. Husband and I spend about 3000 cause we get an appetizer. They have a good lunch set for additional 300 yen, which includes all you can eat salad, soup, and hot/cold teas and coffee with your entree.

  2. 50’s Diner, amazing burgers
    Sushi Zen, amazing sushi
    I also like the food court in American Village Jusco for Soba and ramen.
    Hotto Motto has great Japanese style fast food, and there seems to be one on every block.

  3. I love this post! So encouraging.

    There are so many wonderful, friendly places to eat at in Okinawa. I love Jakkepoes pancakes. All of them. I love Mintama for the fantastic food (gnocchi!) and cozy atmosphere. Yomitan Story (Yomitan Monogatari) for the amazing Okinawa experience of it. And so many, many more.

    Thanks Larissa!

  4. I love Pizza in the Sky. It is well worth the drive. Directions are on here somewhere.
    One of my favorites are the Meatball Pancakes at the Pancake House Jakkepos in Yomitan. An absolute must!
    Gordies has the best burgers on the island.
    Hanahoos in Yomitan is great for curry. His little Dachshund will come and visit you at your table, hoping you drop something for him.
    Cafe T’s has been a favorite of mine for a long time. It was just up the road from where we lived. Her Campari drinks are awesome! I am sorry I am missing the book club meetings that are going on there now.
    Being back in Texas I am glad we tried a lot of different places to eat and see. No regrets here!
    Thanks for a great post.