CONTRIBUTED BY KATHRYN STRONG
After one very hot Sunday that I had spent running around in the sun for work, I rewarded myself with an afternoon spent at a café with a cup of coffee and a good book. In the spirit of adventure, I decided to try a new place that had just opened near my house – La Tilla.
La Tilla is a long thin building, located along the coastal ridgeline on the road to the Churaumi Aquarium. I drove by it as it was constructed, and couldn’t figure out what it was going to be because of the unconventional shape. Once it was done though, I instantly knew that I wanted to check it out.
The building is sleek and white, with parking on the ground floor and the actual restaurant up a flight of stairs. The inside is almost completely lined with windows, providing panoramic views of Motobu bay and ample natural lighting.
Seating is at either a long bar stretching right by the windows, or at slightly raised tables behind the bar, so that every person should have an unobstructed view. The décor is minimal: white tables, white chairs, white floors and ceilings. The only ornaments are beautiful orchids strewn along the wall. The whole place feels like ethereal and light. It was the perfect place to escape for the afternoon.
When I arrived, I was told to pick whichever table I’d like. I chose a table so I could put my giant school bag on the chair next to me and stretch out. The waitress immediately arrived with a bilingual menu and a glass of water. The food included such Okinawan café standards as Taco Rice, Curry and Rice, Pizza and Pasta, but also had their own specialty plate as well as an Okinawan-themed plate featuring local pork.
On the back side were cakes (cheese or chocolate), ice cream in a variety of flavors, pancakes, and an extended menu of drinks including coffee, tea, soda, and many kinds of local fruit juices. The final section listed flavors of shaved ice. Looking at my fellow diners, I could see that these were immensely popular—almost every person had a heaping bowl of brightly colored ice crystals in front of them.
I was on a cake mission, so I ordered the chocolate cake and a cup of hot coffee. It arrived quickly, presented beautifully with a variety of berries, whipped cream, and fruit syrup dots.
The cake was wonderful. Unlike the dry “Gateau Chocolate” cakes that dominate Okinawa, this one was fantastically moist, while maintaining a rich chocolate flavor. The bitter cranberries and blueberries provided a perfect counterpoint.
Even after I’d finished my cake and coffee, I was more than happy to while away the afternoon with my book, watching the clouds drift across the sky and sailboats full of tourists crash through the waves of the bay. I couldn’t think of a better ending to a busy day at the aquarium, or (in my case) a long day at work.
Hours: Sunday-Thursday 11:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m., Friday & Saturday 11:30 a.m. – 8:30 p.m.; last order is 30 minutes prior to closing.
Payment: Yen only
Directions: Located on the same road as the Churaumi Aquarium, right by the Tropical Dream Center. Take the expressway to the end, merging on to the 58. In Nago, turn onto the 449, and continue through Motobu. Follow the signs for the aquarium. La Tilla will be on the left side, shortly after the Butterfly Garden.
Address: 〒905-0205 沖縄県国頭郡本部町山川1046-2
Website: La Tilla