Thai cuisine and magnificent view of coastline

The view from Kurukuma’s deck is nothing short of magnificent.

One is hard pressed to say, which is more enjoyable, its Thai cuisine or the gorgeous view from its deck, but Café Kurukuma is arguably one of the most famous tourist spots on Okinawa. It’s located in Chinen, Nanjo City, and is a place with a view that can rightfully said to be one of the greatest on the island.

Thai dishes are delicious, servings very generous, and surprisingly reasonably priced.

Café Kurukuma opened in August 2001. The café was built on land that originally was a rocky stretch on the brink of a steep hill. Nakazen Corporation, a health foods producer, cleaned the land and, opened Kurukuma Forest, which consisted of herb and flower gardens, along with a manufacturing plant. The café was added last.

The café’s food is Thai, cooked by a native Thai chef. The head chef, Niyom, perfected his cooking skills in Thailand, but found Okinawa to his liking. He’s now in his 10thyear on Okinawa as head chef at Kurukuma.

The entrance to the restaurant is like walking into a wooden summer cottage.

Apart from his original curry and herb-based dishes, there are some 30 different dishes on the menu to choose from. Recommended is the green curry, made with sweet basil, coriander, turmeric and other herbs, all from the herb garden next to the restaurant. As a special present to our readers, if you tell the staff you have read Japan Update and order a dish, you will get a free herb tea. This offer continues through March.

The café is best known for its stunning view from the deck in the back of the restaurant. The sunrise on a clear day is something to travel to see. In the museum that you have to go through in order to enter the restaurant, there is a line of photos taken of the sun rising from the Pacific Ocean. The café specifically opens at 6 a.m. on Jan. 1st, New Year’s Day, and this year some 300 spectators came to see the first sunrise and enjoy a menu of drinks and chicken curry. Reservations are accepted.

A small shop in a separate building by the entrance to the cafe sells herbs and health products from the Kurukuma’s garden.

Café manager Hidenobu Yabiku says, “I want our customers to enjoy a fine meal and spectacular view. A walk in the garden after the meal is a nice way to cap a lunch or dinner.”

Nakazen Corporation is best known for its fermented “Noni” drink, which is from a tropical shrub. An extract from the fruit is currently being studied as a possible treatment for cancer. The founder of Nakazen himself was also struggling against a disease when a friend introduced him to Noni, and he was cured. Noni juice and various types of herbal teas are sold in the shop next to the cafe.

Café Kurukuma is open 10 a.m. – 9 p.m. with meals available from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. On Tuesdays the café closes at 6 p.m. with the last order at 5 p.m. Payments are in yen only. For reservations, Café Kurukuma’s telephone number is (098) 949-1189.

Trips to observe the herb mill are available but require a reservation one week in advance. Call (098) 949-1188 and ask for Mr. Kudaka. The mill is closed on weekends and holidays.