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Enjoy island cuisine with natural ingredients and lots of flavor at cafe/zakka BE NATURAL
post : 2017.09.25 11:00
cafe/zakka BE NATURL is located alongside palm trees in Sashiki, Nanjo City, on the south side of the main island of Okinawa on Route 331. If you feel like something different, but crave good, local ingredients, this place is a good choice.
This Italian and French-style restaurant is owned by young couple Mr. and Mrs. Hinata. The small garden and all-wood interior make for great feelings in addition to the great island cuisine.
Antique items and crafts from European flea markets are nicely displayed next to pieces by Japanese artists throughout the restaurant. The Hinatas’ collection matches the cafe space and the effect is very pleasant.
Casual courses with seasonal ingredients and local fish for lunch and dinner are on offer. Selections are replaced every two weeks. (lunch 1,620 yen, dinner 2,130 yen) *A dinner course with a meat dish is available (3,400 yen), and comes with appetizer, primo (pasta or soup, depending on the season), secondo (fish), cafe (drink) and dolce (dessert). Items may be ordered all together or à la carte. Everything is made with seasonal ingredients and served with creativity. I ordered the Baked Cheese and Homemade Jam (920 yen) and Aglio Olio of Okra with Sun-Dried Italian Tomatoes (735 yen).
Mr. And Mrs. Hinata’s travels take them to Italy and France almost every year. They purchase crafts and also learn home cooking through homestay experiences and stays with farmers. They also visit many restaurants and cafes when dining out. When they return home, they modify the new tastes and techniques by using local ingredients to subtly adapt dishes to their Japanese sensibilities.
They describe their ultimate goal as keeping as much of the natural flavor of their foods intact, as the restaurant’s name suggests. The Hinata’s apply this approach to all of their dishes so perhaps this is the heart of their of their unique “island cuisine.”
So, first dish arrive at my table: Marinated Chicken with Lentils. The combination of tender, mild-flavored chicken with and lentils brought much happiness in my mouth.
Next, the primo arrived in the form of Puccini Pumpkin Soup.
Puccini is a type of pumpkin grown by a local farmer. They use the pumpkin as a soup dish. It has an interesting appearance.
The secondo was sautéed fish from Chinen Fishermen’s Port with province sauce. Mr. Hinata is entitled to join in the bidding for fresh fish every morning. My fish was prepared crunchy on the outside and fluffy on the inside. It was delicious of course. Mr. Hinata is also olive oil master; licensed in Italy. The sauce has a great balance of ingredients that brings the most out of the tasty fish.
The last dish was the dolce, dessert. It was a work of art – homemade gelato and cake with seasonal fruits to top off my entertaining of culinary experience.
The olive oil from Italy, domestic tea, wine, vinegar, pasta and other ingredients used in the restaurant are displayed at the front of the counter. All are available for purchase.
Confitures (jams) are homemade from locally-grown fruits, including apples, mangoes, bananas, passion fruits, star fruits, shikuwasa (Okinawan citrus) and so on, with no artificial additives. You can enjoy the jam with bread, yogurt, ice cream or as a garnish for meat and fish dishes.
The food and the crafts fill the restaurant with love without over-decorating. Women, men, couples, families, locals and tourists all enjoy this restaurant. Even though the sign reads “café,” the food offered is much more than just café fare and the name, BE NATURAL, gains meaning with each bite.
A small space called “the library” is filled with antiques and crafts. All items within fit perfectly in the space. I wondered if they are merchandise for sale. They seem totally at home there.
cafe/zakka BE NATURAL
Address: 138-1 Sashiki Sashiki, Nanjo City, Okinawa*
*New address as of April 2017
Hours: lunch: 11:30-15:00（last order), café: 15:00-18:00 , dinner: 18:00-20:30 last order) 21:30
Closed: Tuesday and Wednesday
*If holiday, the next day will be closed
Okinawa CLIP photo writer: Naoko Tsuruta