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Yachimun & Café Gunjo (Yomitan Village) Offers Pottery Souvenirs and Authentic Pizzas from Their Special Stone Oven
post : 2018.10.25 06:00
Mr. Masakazu Soma is a traditional craftsman and the owner of Toshin Gama kiln in Zakimi, Yomitan Village, famous for the Okinawan Yachimun pottery brand, the Tsuboya Yaki Pottery. With his personal principles from the standpoint of the user, “easy to hold, easy to drink, and easy to use,” he has a wide and strong fan base across Japan as he continues to produce pottery pieces using diverse techniques distinctive of Tsuboya Yaki pottery, which boasts a 330-year history.
Next to his kiln and production studio is Yachimun & Café Gunjo, where he has a variety of pottery pieces on sale (including works by his first son, Daisaku, who is also a potter), and where they also offer authentic Italian cuisine served on their pottery. The owner-chef of the establishment is his second son, Masanao, who has enjoyed cooking since he was a child. The chef always dreamed to “own his own restaurant where he could serve the food he makes with the pottery my father creates.” His dream came true when he built the restaurant next to the studio, and opened its doors in May, 2016. Since then, it has gained popularity through word-of-mouth as a stylish place to shop for Yachimun and to enjoy a delicious lunch.
The interior is of exposed concrete with a clean wooden flooring, giving the space a warm, modern atmosphere. There are many big windows inside which brings in a lot of natural lighting and gives the interior an open feeling, creating an overall comfortable feel to the establishment.
The music playing in the background is jazz, where the sound flows through the Tsubo (pot) Speaker, created by Toshin Gama & Onkyo Ashitomi. Visitors can leisurely look and shop for Yachimun in this great ambience. The dining area is by the window at the far end on the first floor, and there are also tables on the second floor which offers a great view. On the roof, there is a stage set up for live performances where they occasionally hold jazz and Okinawan folk performances.
At the display area when you first enter the shop, there is a great selection of new and old designs by Toshin Gama of every size! There are dishes for every day use, sake and tea cups and containers, Ryukyu Nanban pottery, Shisa lions and more. The red Akae paints and dyes, and the fish and Ichhin designs are especially eye-catching and displays the elaborate designing techniques of Toshin Gama which continues to carry on the traditional techniques all the while keeping its unique, modern touch.
Once you find that piece you especially love, then head over to one of the tables for a delicious lunch♪ Among the more light lunches like their pizza, the most popular menu is the Napoli Pizza, an authentic pizza created by the chef, Masanao, who honed his skills at a famous hotel restaurant. He spends three or four days in repeating the process of leavening and maturing the dough created with carefully selected flour, which results in a very special dough! He uses their original Shisa Stone Oven and bakes it for 60 to 90 seconds at approximately 400 degrees, and the pizza that comes out of the oven is heavenly, with a crust that’s crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside.
They offer eight or more pizza varieties at all times, including favorites like Margherita, Gorgonzola and Honey (Quattro Formage), and others. The most popular and recommended by Chef Masanao is the Oven-Baked Island Vegetables (Altonara) pictured above (\1,242, all prices quoted here includes tax). The pizza has five varieties of fresh seasonal vegetables on a crust that’s about 23 centimeters in diameter, and the red, green, and yellow of the vegetables are delightful to see as well as taste. The dough is baked to perfection, blanketed with the rich flavor of the melting mozzarella and topped with vegetables, and will definitely tantalize your appetite. Enjoy it while it’s hot to fully enjoy this perfection, as the simple yet wonderful taste and texture of the ingredients make this a masterpiece. For side dishes, they offer Carrot Potage Soup (\324) and others, and beverages like Ripe Banana and Brown Sugar Syrup Smoothie (\432, also pictured above), and also alcoholic beverages. They have a great selection of desserts, starting with the popular Tiramisu (\270). Waiting for your order is extra special as you’re not only waiting for something delicious, but waiting to see what beautiful dish it will be served on.
On a side note, their famous stone oven in which they bake their pizza created by Chef Masanao, has a Shisa lion exterior which was of course, created by Toshin Gama. Talk about a great father and son collaboration!
Toshin Gama offers observation tours and introductory pottery experience as well. Take the opportunity to look in to the studio after your wonderful meal. This is a great place to look for gifts for friends and family, and of course for yourself, and to top it off, you can enjoy an authentic, stone-baked pizza lunch and/or café time, and let’s not forget the observation tour of the studio and the introductory pottery experience, which is the cherry on top…Gunjo is just so full of things to do, see, and eat. I guarantee that this place offers something different, something more, than other Yachimun shops and cafes, and a very special Yachimun time.
Yachimun Pottery & Café Gunjo
Address: 2898-21 Zakimi, Yomitan Village, Okinawa
Business Hours: 10:00-19:00 (Pizza from 11:00, last order @ 18:30)
Okinawa CLIP photo writer, Kiwamu Ogawa (Qey Word)