CONTRIBUTED BY MONETTE EAMES
When one thinks of the military base houses built in Okinawa in the 1950’s, rectangular boxed shaped homes with low ceilings, typhoon proof windows, mold and dehumidifiers, and vinyl tiles would probably come to mind (yes, I’m guilty of sometimes just focusing on the negatives when living in base housing). Beautiful jazz music like the Lullaby of Birdland probably wouldn’t be drifting in and out of that picture you’re imagining.
Well, maybe it’s time we (or maybe I) start playing some jazz and just think about how blessed we are to even be in a place to call home. In fact, why not play different versions of the Lullaby of Birdland right now and get ready for lunch, pasta and sweets, or dinner at Birdland Café just a few minutes away from Koza Music Town?
We came across this incredible diamond in the rough while on a date night and we will definitely be regulars here. We parked our car not expecting much, but we were more than pleasantly surprised. From the outside, all you see is some kind of base housing from the good old days. However, when you walk in, you feel a sense of coziness, peace, openness, and relaxation.
We were tenderly welcomed (there was something about the people that worked here—soft-spoken, gentle, benevolent) and were led to a room that could have sat about twelve comfortably. There were three other rooms. One room could have seated about ten, another, maybe twelve and the last, eight. Two of the rooms were probably the bedrooms once upon a time, as we noticed the storage space above the closet just like our house on base. We’re guessing it was a three bedroom home with a living and dining area.
The menu is in Japanese, but our waiter explained what everything was perfectly in English. There was the pasta section with a few types of pasta: three different sauces—tomato, cream, and olive oil. Then there was the rice section. For a set, it was an extra 500 Yen. The set included a drink, small salad, and dessert. Then there were the sweets. We asked the waiter for his recommendations and ordered those. We got the pasta with shrimp and mushrooms in cream sauce and the steak dish with rice. Both were absolutely SUPERB!!! Excellent tasting, everything was delicious, and the presentation was simply beautiful.
As we enjoyed our dinner, the cars passing by and the open windows with the breeze gently blowing in made us feel as if we could watch the world pass us by without having being a part of it. It felt like we were next to the ocean and the entire experience was relaxing, peaceful and very enjoyable! The décor of the restaurant was incredible, with character-wooden tables, soft comfortable couches, and interesting photos and memorabilia everywhere you looked. The soft jazz music playing in the background completed the total dinner experience leaving the guests with a memory that will last a lifetime and maybe some ideas on how to redecorate base housing if we just wanted tables and chairs!
Everything we experienced here was exceptional, including the prices. Birdland Café has been in business for eight years and the owner loves jazz and plays the saxophone. The restaurant is named after the jazz song, Lullaby of Birdland.
Address: 7-4-3 Goya, Okinawa City, 904-0021
Directions: From Kadena Gate #2, head straight out, pass Koza Music Town, and cross through the 330 intersection. Once you are through the intersection, start counting the stoplights. At stoplight #7, take a right (it will be at the bottom of the hill past the Esso Gas Station). You’ll pass a driving range on the right, and then about 1km later, you will see the Birdland Café on the left with parking on the left and right.
Hours: Lunch– 11:30am – 3:00pm, Pasta & Sweets– 3 – 6pm, Dinner– 6 – 10:30pm (last order)
Phone: (098) 933-0232