- Beautiful Crafts of Ryukyu for the Coming Generations. Kotohogi no Kaori, the Kake-Kou Hanging Incense and Yui, the Scent Sachet
- Shokusai Kamata (Miyako Island), the Southernmost Japanese Soba Restaurant Serves Natural Goodness Direct from the “Farm to Table”
Café NY in Yomitan Village Serves Up Delicious Bahn Mi (Vietnamese Sandwiches) Seasoned with Kindness and the Laid Back Feeling of Okinawa
post : 2018.11.23 10:00
Yomitan Village is recognized as “the most populated village in Japan”. The village is full of simplistic natural beauty and in the Nagahama area, time seems to pass by more peacefully. The area has numerous second homes rented out to those who have come to Okinawa from mainland Japan or overseas, and the rows of houses has garnered the nickname, "the Beverly Hills of Yomitan Village”. Along the shores of Nagahama is a small café that is overflowing with the charming feel of homespun goodness. This special establishment is Café NY.
The location invites its visitors to sit back and enjoy the bahn mi sandwiches with the wonderful view of the ocean. The owner of the shop is Kanako Tsuha, who is originally from the bustling metropolis of Tokyo. She relocated to Okinawa for the warmer climate. Kanako loves the Nagahama area, a quiet community with the spectacular seas and a relaxed living environment. She blended in comfortably to the location and over time, she wanted to start a business that supported the lifestyle here. When she went back to Tokyo, she came across a delicious bahn mi at a Vietnamese restaurant that really impressed her. She decided that’s what she wanted to offer in Okinawa. The bahn mi is relatively easy to prepare and the ingredients and tools needed are simple, but the bahn mi served at Café NY definitely has the taste and uniqueness that Kanako is particular about.
As you sit back and listen, you’ll hear the ring of the oven toaster calling out that the bread is ready. You’ll also hear the gentle clang of the stainless steel cooking utensils, and the spicy Vietnamese sate oil being stirred up. From where Kanako stands, the sounds of food being prepared carefully and skillfully echo softly in the background. Kanako’s soothing voice like that of someone humming a tune, blended with the ocean view spread before my eyes, was like a comfortable lullaby. That’s where you can feel Kanako’s personality.
The bahn mi served at Café NY has white daikon radish, carrot pickled in sweet vinegar, coriander, cucumber, and olive oil, and you can choose the main ingredient of either homemade ham in cream cheese or spicy chicken. The sate is the final and key topping, and is made from lemongrass, garlic, and Okinawan chili peppers fried in vegetable oil. The three vegetables in the sate sauce are all lovingly grown in Kanako’s grandfather’s farm. The bread is specially baked for her bahn mi by the bakery shop, Otonariya, and is made with natural yeast and no eggs or butter.
Kanako makes it a point to communicate with her customers while they wait for their orders and also when they are enjoying her sandwiches. She says her customers are mostly from overseas, and about 20% are Japanese. She says she hopes more Japanese tourists will come and enjoy her food too, but also humbly says, “During their time on Okinawa, the number of meals are limited, so I guess a meal here might be a little too casual. Maybe more people can stop by casually when they’re a little hungry.”
I asked her why her café is named NY when she serves Vietnamese sandwiches. She told me that she just took the name from the bar next door, a bar that her husband runs. Also, her shop is open only three days a week, from Thursday to Saturday, from 11:30am to whenever she runs out of ingredients. Since I became a big fan of her bahn mi, I asked her to open her shop more often. To this, Kanako responded with a chuckle, “I want to be sure to have quality time for myself and for my family. Eventually, if I’m able to have more time for everything, I’d like to open longer.” Kanako lives her life without pushing herself too much and at her own pace, and really fits well in the laid back environment of Okinawa, and especially here, in Nagahama, Yomitan. If you’re in the neighborhood, I highly recommend a stop at Café NY. I’m sure that the quiet nature and the passing of time in Nagahama, the gentle atmosphere created by Kanako, and the deliciousness of her bahn mi will more than satisfy you.
Address: 135-3 Nagahama, Yomitan, Nakagami, Okinawa
Hours: 11:30 ~ when sold out
Closed: Sundays to Wednesdays
Okinawa CLIP photo writer, Yu Murakami