- Quality : ★★★★ – Good
- Type: All Vegan
- Location: Near Miebashi Station, Naha, Okinawa, Japan
- Nearby Attractions: Kokusai Dori
- Price: $$ – Average (meals around ¥800-¥1100)
- Hours: Mon-Sun, Lunch 11:00-15:00, Cafe 15:00-18:00, Dinner 18:00-23:00 (last order 22:00)
- Website: Restaurant Website, HappyCow Page
- Language Barrier: Menu with English Translation, staff speak some English.
About & Location:
Ukishima Garden is a vegan restaurant located just off of Kokusai Dori (International Street) in Naha, Okinawa. The restaurant is about a 15 minute walk from Miebashi Station on the Okinawa Monorail (also called Yui Rail). There’s a map on the HappyCow Page. They seem to specialize in using local Okinawan ingredients to make non-traditional dishes, such as Taco Rice Pizza. They also have a decent wine selection, and it seems many customers come just for the wine.
Address, Nearby Attractions, Transport Access & Contact:
- English Address: 2 Chome-12-3 Matsuo, Naha, Okinawa, Japan
- Japanese Address: 〒900-0014 沖縄県那覇市松尾2－12－3
- Nearby Attractions: Kokusai Dori
- Public Transportation Access: near Miebashi Station (Yui Rail)
- Phone Number: +81 98-943-2100
Although on Happy Cow and Vegi-Navi say that Ukishima Garden is only vegan-friendly, I asked the servers and they assured me that everything on the menu is vegan, not just vegetarian. Others seem to have received similar reassurances, but of course ask yourself to be certain. The food here is delicious, and their menu is fairly expansive, so you have plenty of choices. Many of their dishes use traditional Okinawan ingredients in creative ways.
Since I do my best to try to take part in local food culture, I tried to order dishes that seemed distinctly “only-in-Okinawa”. The first night, I wasn’t very hungry, so I ordered the Fried Goya (bitter melon) Tsukune appetizer (¥500). Bitter melon, as you might expect from the name, is quite bitter and not to everyone’s taste. However, this dish was made of bits of bitter melon mixed in will millet and fried, so that the taste of the melon itself is very mild and overall the dish was much more rich than bitter. If you haven’t tried Goya before, this a great opportunity to try it without having to commit to a meal chock-full of goya.
The second night I ordered Spicy Taco Pizza (¥980), which was just as delicious as I wanted it to be. Taco Rice is an Okinawan dish that essentially is a taco without the taco, so the Taco Pizza consisted of vegan “ground beef”, lettuce, tomatoes and salsa on a vegan pizza. It was hard to keep all of the toppings on the slice while eating, but the taste was worth the effort. The crust was a bit thick and chewy (which I greatly prefer over the paper-thin crunchy crusts you sometimes see in Japan), and it was just the right size for a single person.
For dessert I got the Chocolate Gateau (¥500). It was small, but rich and very moist. I often find vegan cakes to be dry, so this a big plus.
Atmosphere & Service:
The atmosphere in Ukishima Garden is a bit more upscale than most of the vegan cafes I’ve been to. While the prices for dinner are fairly standard by Tokyo standards (in the 1000-1500 range), it felt more like a place for a slightly fancy, romantic dinner. At night they dim the lights, and they seem to specialize in domestic and imported wines. Empty wine bottles lined the window sills, and the rest of the décor was the sort of shabby-chic, French-countryside style that’s very popular at “natural” cafes. Personally, I love this style and found it very cozy, but the dimmed lighting made it more conducive for conversation than a solitary meal.
My only complaint was with the service. While the staff are quite friendly, the place was either understaffed or the waiters just weren’t on their top game during the two times I visited. Both times I visited I waited for long periods before being able to order and getting my check (both times I had to flag down a server for my bill). That said, I was seated in a corner on the bar, so maybe they just couldn’t see me well or though I didn’t want to be interrupted.