Uema Outside

Every morning, if you’re driving on the 36 from or to Expressway exit 5, you may find lots of Japanese construction workers in their baggy pants trickling in and out of a building with a huge yellow sign with the word Uema.

Sometimes they emerge with a white bowl stuffing their mouths with soba or tempura.  Sometimes you’ll see them eating in silence at the covered old, shabby, but clean outdoor area.  There are also the guys who eat in their work trucks.  Then there’s me, amidst the sea of gray and seafoam blue uniforms–a little American getting my share of tempura, bentos, and soba for my family.

Uema line

Back home, we called these places Okazu-yas.  Okazu meaning side dish and “Ya” meaning shop.   They’re restaurants that serve carry-out foods where you pick and choose what you want from the plethora of side dish platters.  At Uema, you get some tongs, a plastic bag or tray and pick your food to your heart’s desire.  Most of the food at Uema is tempura style.  Squid legs, fish, shrimp, chicken, vegetables, are just a few selections to choose from.  The great thing is, the prices for tempura range from Y50 cents to a Y100!

Uema Close

In addition to that, there are bentos, cone sushis, rice balls, Okinawan donuts and bowls of soba.  There’s no sign for the soba, but you’ll see them all stacked up neatly for the morning rush.  A soba bowl is Y100.

Uema Bento

No one speaks English here, but right next to each platter, there’s a tag that tells you what it is in English and Japanese.  The lady who is usually at the register is really nice and she tallies everything on her calculator then shows me the total.  They also sell party platters at reasonable prices.  If you’re in the area, stop by.  I’m sure they’d love to see new faces besides the usual morning construction crew crowd here!

Hours of operation: 5:00 am to 8:00 pm

Payment Types:  Japanese Yen

Telephone Number:  098-937-9477

Address: Okinawa, Noborikawa, 3 Chome 県道36号線

Google Maps Coordinates: 26.374056989438042, 127.82311947510652

Directions:  From Exit 5 on the expressway go straight.  Uema will be on the right.  Look for a bright yellow sign and lighted scrolling neon sign.



  1. OMG This is one of favorite I am too lazy to cook spot. My girls love their Yen100 soba and their yummy fried Chicken leg(Yen150). For me, it’s the Grilled Fish Bento Box (Yen420)with local vegetable dishes that get me come back for more. My husband love their Squid Tempura but I am addicted to their vegetable tempura. Just drop it in a bowl of soba noodles, you have a light lunch for Yen150.If you do not want to dogde traffic, there is a small size parking right behind the shop uphill with a big white Kanji sign directing you where to go. We found it much easier and safer than dealing with the traffic. I also love this place coz they do accept American. This is the I don’t want to eat on base but I can’t afford to go anywhere else off base when the yen rate was Yen76 to the dollar place. I have the chance to go in after 7 pm and most of their stuff are 50% off and they sometimes have some of their left over vegetable dishes on sale too and I was able to feed a family of 4 with homemake well balanced meal for just Yen500. Can’t beat that.

  2. I’m so excited to see a post on this!! Can you believe we’ve lived on Mct for 2 years and have passed this so many times always wondering why it is so packed? Of course I’ve never had the guts to go in and we always figured it was just sushi(which we’re not fans of). I guess I should stop by sometime and try it out. Not with kids of course though, because as people mentioned you are often times dashing across the road LOL. So glad someone has finally posted on it!

  3. We stopped in for dinner tonight around 7 ish, most things were 50% off! I will have to try to go by in the morning or mid-day to see what the place is like fully stocked. The lady at the counter was very nice and thus far everything tastes great. We got a pretty large Bento, 4 peices of fried fish, 2 peices of squid tempura?, salmon onigiri and a chicken quarter for 960 yen..That’s a deal!

  4. I pass this every day on the way to and from my daughter’s school and have always wondered why it’s so PACKED! Seriously, cars line the road around it ALL day. I think we will join the crowd and give it a try!