My Magical & Magnificent Mini-Vacation

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With travel outside Japan being difficult, few options that didn’t involve a great deal of fuss AND muss, and the knowledge that travel is the thing that makes me feel alive, this girl needed some travel ASAP. I decided to do what I had sworn I was going to do when I first got to Okinawa 16 years ago – start discovering more of the Ryuku island chain. Apparently there are more than 150 islands in the Okinawa prefecture so I’m way behind the power curve on this one (I’ve been to fewer than 10 so far). I realized I wanted, no actually make that NEEDED, to start island hopping immediately to begin crossing this mission off my bucket list.  The bonus to doing this now, as opposed to waiting another 16 years, is that while Japan is mostly still closed to foreigners, I’m a foreigner on the inside so I can do all the things in this country with minimal crowds (a VERY rare thing). One of the places I’d been hearing about since the beginning of my stay in Okinawa was Miyako island, one of the Okinawa islands, and part of Miyakojima which includes 6 islands.

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Yonaha Beach Miyako

Miyako island is the largest of these islands at 61.34 square miles. If you could run a 7 minute mile you could get from one side of the island to the other in 42 minutes… If you can’t run a 7 minute mile, or want to save your energy for other things, I suggest renting a car. Car rental is very affordable here and less sweat inducing than jogging in the summer heat, though if you don’t reserve in advance you may want to bring those running shoes because they sometimes do run out of rentals. When I went in the beginning of June (2022) a small rental car was only about $100 for 3 days. Miyako is surrounded by the East China Sea and has a population of about 46,000. A plus to visiting Miyako from Okinawa mainland is that the plane ride is only 50 minutes and when I booked it, it cost less than $150 for a round trip ticket. 

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Miyako from the sky on my JTA flight

The Miyako airport is tiny, which makes it easy to find your baggage carousel (there’s one) and most of the rental car people stand right outside the baggage area so they are easy to spot when you come out. Mine were NOT standing outside but when I called they directed me to the shuttle stop just outside the front doors of the airport. Once I was in my rental car I set out for the Miyakojima Tokyu Hotel & Resorts (the cost for 3 nights over the weekend at this 4 star luxury resort was only about $400 because of the amazing yen rate). 

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I was not disappointed by this place and it lived up to the glowing reviews it got online. I got there very early (10 am) and because it was my birthday and I had joined their membership club (note: ALWAYS join the hotel membership clubs for the extra perks) they not only let me check in early but also upgraded my room! 

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Upgraded room with a view at the Miyakojima Tokyu Hotel & Resorts

The rooms face the East China Sea and my room was beautiful with two full size beds and a lounge area. There was a tea and coffee station with an electric kettle and a Keurig type coffeemaker, a fridge, a decent closet with a safe, drawers for clothes, hotel pajamas (very cute and comfy white cotton), a sink with a view of the room and the ocean (can be closed with a sliding shutter for privacy if you don’t want your partner watching you brush your teeth), a big bathtub, and all the toiletries you might need to include a rather nice mini hair brush and bright red hibiscus bath salts (which made the bath look like a crime scene instead of a chill relaxation zone).

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Balcony sunset view

The best part was the balcony which faced the ocean and the pool. I could sit and watch the sunset from my room if I was feeling lazy, but there were so many other stunning locations to watch the sunset too!

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Tokyu Hotel & Resorts poolside

My first mission was to get a lay of the land and check out the famous beach that butted right up to the hotel property. The pool was lovely but when the water in the ocean is such a gorgeous shade of turquoise it’s hard to imagine settling for a dip in the pool. 


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Miyakojima Tokyu Hotel & Resorts grounds

The grounds were beautifully manicured and the gorgeous trees and flowers made me feel like I was in a tropical paradise (ummm maybe because I was!). There were 5 restaurants on the property, some of which required reservations.  One of the restaurants specialized in sushi and another teppanyaki.  There was a soothing spa where I received an amazing 90 minute massage before bed that helped me sleep more soundly than I’ve slept in years. The hotel has a little gift shop, with beach gear, clothes, trinkets, postcards, snacks, and even some local crafts (Okinawa blown glass, bingata style purses, etc.). There are 2 outdoor tennis courts, a covered terrace to lounge about or just generally chill in, water features, miniature golf, and free parking and free wifi. 

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Peaceful viewing area to watch the waves at Miyakojima Tokyu Hotel & Resorts

The first beach on my list was the beach behind the hotel, rated as one of the top beaches in Miyako, and it definitely lived up to the hype. Yonaha Beach features a long stretch of white sand and views of a long bridge leading to Kurima island across the water. The hotel’s umbrellas and chairs were surprisingly underwhelming, more like the cheap metal and woven nylon folding beach loungers from when I was a kid (in the 80’s, if you must know) and felt more 2 star than 4 star… but honestly who cares when you are on such a stunning beach?

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Yonaha Beach

I walked down the beach towards the bridge and found several companies renting water toys for various fun activities (jet skis, banana boats, etc.). There was a volleyball tournament going on when I was there with multiple matches going on at once and some people making some impressive sand sculptures. The water was just the right temperature, cool enough to be refreshing and to keep you wanting to float there all day. 

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Yonaha Beach before the storm Miyako

I had beaches to discover and adventures to go on so I cut my floating short and checked Yonaha off my list.

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Yonaha pier at Miyakojima Tokyu Hotel & Resorts

I hopped in my car and headed across the Kurima bridge to the island across the way (yep, you guessed it Kurima island).

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Kurima Bridge

My first stop was the Ryuuguujo Observation Deck, where a mermaid greeted me with lovely views of the sparkling tropical sea and bridge stretching from one island to the next. She wanted to tell me a secret but I don’t speak mermaid and my translator app didn’t either. 

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Ryuuguujo Observation Deck mermaid giving me insider stock tips

As I was searching for the next beach on the nearby island of Irabu, I found another observation deck and being a keen observer, I stopped to check out the view from the architecturally unique Makiyama Observatory where I took in the lush tropical jungle below, rocks blanketed by green, and the beautiful sea below. 

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Makiyo cliffs view
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Makiyama Observatory

All that driving and exploring was kicking up my appetite and one of the places that had both great reviews and healthy food was the Dining Café & Bar Coral Island Miyakojima. 

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I’ve been eating healthier and wanted some fuel that would give me energy for my beach adventures and not bog me down and force me into nap mode (that means no French toast for me today). 

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Dining Café & Bar Coral Island Miyakojima outdoor seating

The views from this restaurant were magnificent and there was a large outdoor deck where I could sit and relax while I enjoyed a simply prepared Miyako beef steak (apparently it is incredibly rare and is a must try) with roasted vegetables, wasabi sauce, toasted garlic chips, sea salt, and a small shot glass filled with pickled veggies for 6000 yen. I gave it 2 thumbs up and felt healthy and happily satiated. 

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Miyako steak

Next beach stop was Toguchi no hama which was beautiful but maybe because it was on the verge of pouring down rain I didn’t find as enchanting as some of the other beaches. There was an arch of white sand beach flanked by palm trees and azure water, as well as rocky outcroppings along the shore on the side opposite the beach. Showers and bathrooms are available and there’s a little store with limited hours at the entrance to the beach. 

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Toguchi no hama Beach

It began raining and I made my way back to get some solid sleep and start off early for the next day’s adventures. 

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Toguchi no hama

Top of my list for the next day was Sunayama Beach, home of the famous rock arch.

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I pulled into a large parking lot, with some shady areas, vending machines, bathrooms, and a map of the area and trekked over a sandy pathway, through tropical bushes and plants, to a stunning view of my now favorite beach.

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Sunayama Beach trail

White sand, flanked by a tall limestone rock face on one side and a rock arch with a view of the sea on the other. 

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Between the two was the most stunning blue water. It was so inviting I dove right in and floated and floated until the tips of my fingers wrinkled and my bliss meter was maxed out.

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Sunayama Beach

The rock arch apparently has seen better days and was roped off and had ropes wrapped around it to keep it from collapsing.

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Sunayama Beach rock arch

After my float I begrudgingly packed my towel up and set off for the next beach, because despite my FOMO, I knew that there was not going to be a better beach than this. The beach afficionado in me knew this, but the adventurer in me knew it wouldn’t hurt to check the other beaches, just in case. 

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Harry’s Garlic Shrimp Truck

My belly was starting to demand fuel so I decided to make a stop to fuel up where I could also enjoy stunning views of the ocean. I headed north to Cape Nishihennazaki where just past 2 giant wind turbines, I found the most magical school bus I’ve ever seen… Harry’s Shrimp Truck is actually a school bus converted into a kitchen and serves garlic shrimp and rice that is 5/5 oishi (that’s tasty to all you non-Japanese speakers).

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Harry’s garlic shrimp

They have a covered seating area and a rooftop seating area and a nearby restroom and of course, the ever present Japanese vending machines. After devouring 2 plates of shrimp (hey I didn’t get the rice so I deserved to helpings of the shrimp – why you gotta be so judgy???) I wandered around the walkway along the edge of the ocean, climbed the observation deck and was mesmerized and hypnotized by the waves crashing against the rocks.

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Cape Nishihennazaki crashing waves

Happily this was not the kind of hypnosis that caused me to cluck like a chicken and instead was the sort that calmed my mind and soothed my soul.

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Cape Nishihennazaki
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Cape Nishihennazaki

Next stop Ikema island, where I found a beach marked by a yellow buoy painted with kanji and tiny buoys hanging from this one painted like Japanese sumo heads. 

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Ikema island beach marker

This beach was beautiful and I had it all to myself. In this day and age this is such a rarity that it completely freaked me out. Wondering what was wrong with this beach, instead of reveling in the solitude and the private beach vibe, I became weirdly paranoid and nervous. Were there sharks here and that’s why no one was here? Was this the serial killer beach? Was it haunted by ghosts? Sigh. Note to self. ENJOY THE RARE GIFT of a deserted beach. Floated for 5 minutes and then bailed. Yep, silly move but sometimes, luckily very rarely, solo travel can bring on a bit of anxiety… 

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deserted Ikema island beach

Shaking off the haunted beach vibes, I headed to Funakusu Beach a white sand beach that gently curved between green topped boulders. Despite a junky looking entrance with sandbags piled along a cement wall, the beach was straight out of a travel brochure, beckoning to SUP lovers, snorkelers, sunbathers, and swimmers. 

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Prior to heading back over the Ikema Ohashi Bridge I pulled over at a little tourist stop where you can park, grab a bite, a drink, or some souvenirs, just prior to the crossing to get some pictures and an ice cold bottle of water. A pink structure in the parking lot is the perfect vantage to snap some photos of the bridge (just under a mile long) connecting Miyako and Ikema islands. 

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Ikema Ohashi Bridge

My final stop for this trip was Imugya Marine Garden with a safe little cove to snorkel (sadly I didn’t bring my snorkeling gear on this trip but will for certain bring it next time) and an easy walking path along and above the sea.

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Easily visible under the aquamarine water on the far side of the path were spectacular rock and coral formations.  

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The Marine garden included bridges, stairs, a scenic overlook, stone paths, covered rest areas, and a grumpy looking Miyako cow sculpture.

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On my way back to the hotel I passed one of the peculiar life sized statues I’d been driving by  throughout my entire stay and decided it was time to pull over and capture this oddity on film. Standing on the corner of busy intersections in Miyako you will often see a very pale man with a white helmet, wearing a blue Michael Jackson style jacket, blue pants, white spats, white gloves, and a white belt standing on a yellow cement block with his hands by his side.

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This is the famed Mamoru-kun police mascot on Miyakojima. He is there to inspire (or scare) you into obeying the traffic laws and was first put up in 1991.

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There are 20 of these vaguely creepy statues, 17 who live on miyakojima. Each time I spotted a statue my foot eased up on the accelerator and my heart sped up a bit so I can personally vouch for the effectiveness of this strange traffic cop sculpture.

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There is, of course, Mamoru-kun merchandise sold across the island (especially at the airport) with a variety of products to include cookies, liquor, keychains, and of course a guidebook to help you locate all of the statues.

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Miyako island far exceeded my expectations (and trust me I’m not a low expectations kind of girl) and I will absolutely return.

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The beauty of this spot is that you can stay in luxury at a resort or on the cheap in a condo and either way you have access to all the stunning beaches. Thus far it is my favorite of the Ryuku island but I still have more to explore and will keep you posted. 

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Miyakojima tourist

Café Strada – Crepes So Good They’ll Make You Cry

6EB6F251-36BB-4457-849F-149083B90386Café Strada is a cafe with a fresh casually elegant feel to it, with a few tables outside on the sidewalk and 14 or so tables inside. They proudly proclaim (in their menu, not shouting it through a megaphone as you walk in) that they “use organic spices, grains & flours and support local produce where we can.” Both times I went there were no crowds but a few people scattered about. The floors are polished concrete and one wall is covered with large lush palm leaves and the other is a solid steel blue making you feel like you are sitting between the jungle and the ocean (without that pesky humidity). The cafe has high ceilings with a bustling coffee counter up front where you can order from the window facing the sidewalk or come inside, and pull up a seat. 2D6ED76F-8079-45F7-9B66-F38F02426E35Their beverages are made with serious love (not puppy love – it’s the real deal baby!) and they have an assortment of unique teas as well as coffees. They proudly proclaim that they use Sipping Duck coffee (a local coffee roastery and a proud silver medal winner in the Australian International coffee awards) though when I read this all I could think of was an over-caffeinated duck swimming around in frantic circles while sipping a tiny duck sized cup of coffee. Also the duck is drinking a double shot (since the cafe ALWAYS serves a double shot… now if I could just get my bartender to follow this plan). The organic velvet latte sounded unique to say the least. It is made with beet root, turmeric, ginger, cardamom, cinnamon, vanilla, cayenne, & black pepper.  It sounded a tad too unique for my nervous taste buds so I stuck with a classic favorite – chai latte. So glad I did as it was just the right amount of sweet, a delicate flavor that is pure comfort and love (I don’t know that’s just what I felt…). B4F70203-2E51-49D9-AF9D-B933A76E9E48There is Creme Brûlée Tea which somehow manages to really taste like a creme brûlée but without the richness. Add milk and voila! You are getting a creme brûlée without the added calories. It was simple, light, and still quite delicious. The perfect tea if you decide you are going for something rich like the crepes. And my advice is… GO FOR THE CREPES!5F74BB9F-17AD-4B61-95A7-7C96A079488A

The crepes are made from a buckwheat flour which initially caused me some hesitation because I associate buckwheat with healthy and healthy with not decadently delicious and I’ll take decadently delicious over healthy any day of the week (as my regular readers are well aware of at this point). Despite my misgivings I ordered the savory breakfast crepe ($13.9) with garlic butter mushrooms, a soft egg (no the egg didn’t have fur, it was a soft over easy egg), vibrant spinach leaves, and of course the price d’resistance – the melted cheese. This was absolutely heaven on a crepe. It was rich, fresh, and the crepe was actually fantastic.4AFAD168-E7E8-48C0-BCED-7FB13A51217B Then came the difficult decision. I couldn’t decide between the traditional lemon sugar crepe ($7) or the salted caramel crepe ($7.5) and the chef was kind enough not to force me to choose and gave me a side of salted caramel to slather on the crepe at will. She mentioned that she absolutely loves both of these and when I took a bite of each, after breaking down in tears of ecstasy, I suddenly understood. The lemon sugar was a sweet and sour burst of flavor that demanded I eat every last bite. The salted caramel was eyes rolled back in your head good. I can’t even begin to describe how good it was (which sucks since I’m a writer and that’s what I’m supposed to be doing here…). I somehow managed to leave a few bites but this was not an easy feat. 160320E7-FF9C-4A9B-9B07-A682EA7F2054So generally when I go out to eat I have to leave at least one third of my meal so that I don’t become a round food reviewer (the food would’t be round, I would… though crepes are round, and of course there are cookies and those are generally round. Right. Off track again…). If I had a baseball bat held to my head (they don’t have many guns in Australia) and HAD to choose I would absolutely choose the lemon sugar crepe with salted caramel on the side. 

96DC8EB9-BC0A-42B1-898C-E29825AC23DFI went back another day because despite my desire to try all the breakfast places I could in Cairns, the draw of these crepes was just too strong to resist. On this visit I had the whipped goat’s cheese crepe with homemade onion jam, cherry tomatoes, cheese, spinach, and roasted almonds ($17.9 AU). It was even better than the first savory crepe I’d had here. It was, as they said in the 50’s, “dreamy”. Yes I’m aware that was a phrase generally used to describe handsome guys but given the choice between the most handsome guy on earth and this crepe, I’d choose the crepe. Now THAT is saying something about the super yum factor of these crepes. 95875E7C-C14E-4212-86F7-772801B5BC44For dessert I really really really wanted to order that lemon sugar crepe with a side of that golden salted caramel sauce but resisted said urge and decided to try the crumpet ($15 AU). I’ve read Alice in Wonderland and they talk about crumpets and since I’ve never had a crumpet I realized it was high time I tried one. The crumpet came with rhubarb and strawberry compote, lemon ricotta curd, dark chocolate and almond flakes. A830F1B5-6275-4727-B8AE-3DB103EEC944It was very tasty and I’m sure I would have absolutely loved it, if only I’d never tried the lemon sugar caramel crepe. I’m afraid it ruined all other desserts for me from now until the end of time (or at least until I find something equally tasty – which is sort of like the search for the holy grail, time consuming and pretty much impossible). 

I didn’t indulge because it was 9 am and that “it’s 5:00 somewhere” logic doesn’t work for me – but hey, no judgments if that’s your thing! So if you do want some cocktails to go with your breakfast or lunch they have mimosas, bellinis, Irish coffee, and Bloody Marys at $10 AU each. There are a selection of ciders and beers from $7-8, including beer on tap, as well as a list of a few wines in each category from sparkling, to white, to rose, to red by the glass or bottle. 

I give Café Strada 6 out of a possible 5 golden forks… Hey don’t gripe about that score – it’s like getting that extra credit problem right on your test. So it’s not just perfect, it is above and beyond perfection. 

0D1D24F5-0AFC-4D62-864D-B3B6F799A81DCafé Strada 

79 Lake Street Cairns QLD 4870

+61 7 4028 3860

Open Monday – Friday from 7:30 am – 3:00 pm 

Saturday and Sunday from 8:00 am – 2:00 pm



Waffle On Cairns – A Small Cafe With Big Taste

B25DF03D-BC4D-4E8E-931D-CFD314FE1D76Waffle On comes VERY highly recommended by reviewers at Trip Advisor and since I own stock in that company I try to heed their advice whenever possible. When I arrived the place was full which isn’t difficult considering there is only 1 table inside and 1 counter for 2 people. Outside there are maybe 5 tables, a couple with 4-5 seats and a few with 2 seats. There are people constantly stopping by to try to get a seat and unless they are masters at musical chairs and have the music timed right they are out of luck and are sent on their way. Those who are truly tenacious and demand their waffle will have to wait patiently on the sidewalk mean mugging the diners until they finally get up and give up their precious chairs. There is no to go ordering so you either sit here to eat or you go home and make your own damn waffles. Trust me your waffles will not hold a candle to these waffles and you will be missing out on one of the great wonders of the world. Yes. They are that good. 4544AC58-2CD1-4554-8078-1B2419288EB6

So now that you’ve scored a seat, do you want a traditional strawberry waffle, a plain waffle (yawn… just give up your seat now – what in the name of heaven is wrong with you???),  a “normal” breakfast perched on a waffle, or perhaps you are feeling like breakfast and dessert all in one fell swoop. If so you are in luck since there are an assortment of waffles that will satisfy that deep dark desire. 1628D1EA-397C-4281-A5F9-A690ACD80706Nothing to be ashamed of, just boldly order your dessert on a plate and pretend you are having a healthy breakfast. I do it all the time (if you’ve read my reviews you know this is oh too true). The prices for the sweet side of the menu run from 9.90 AUD for plain (yawn) to 15.90 for “Chronicles of Banan” which is served with Nutella, sliced banana, walnuts, caramel sauce, melted Belgian chocolate, and chocolate ice cream. If that doesn’t make you salivate then how about a Robert Brownie JNR made with a chocolate brownie waffle and served with chocolate AND vanilla ice cream, melted Belgian chocolate and your choice of strawberries, banana or both. There is a Maple Bacon waffle that is made with homemade candied bacon with maple syrup and vanilla ice cream. Gimme S’More is something that sounds heavenly – hand toasted (as opposed to foot toasted?) marshmallows, Belgian chocolate sauce topped crushed chocolate honeycomb with a side of vanilla and strawberry ice cream sandwiches between their delicious chocolate brownie waffle. There is a nod to the artist formerly known as Prince on their menu with a Raspberry Beret (yes there are raspberries in it – you are catching on..). The Cookie Monster is a decadent monstrosity which has brownie waffles filled with whipped cream, crushed Oreos, and served with both vanilla and chocolate ice cream, finished with melted white chocolate and chocolate Belgian sauce. ACAF39C2-8DF7-4B71-BE38-64F6D6F45E66Another waffle that had my stomach rumbling with desire was the Black Forest – chocolate brownie waffle with fresh raspberries and blueberries, served with whipped cream, vanilla ice cream, dark cherry purée, topped with white and milk Belgian chocolate. If you, on the other hand want to act like an adult instead of a kid in a candy store (I’m on the kid in the candy store side but you may be more refined in your tastes) you can order some of the savory waffles (price from $14.90 – $16.90 AUD + $3 for extras) which include Avocado which not surprisingly has smashed avocado on the waffle, as well as scrambled egg, bacon (or mushroom – or both for a bit more money if you’re feeling famished) and finished with spring onion for $15.90 AUD. The Pommy breakfast is a homemade waffle served with baked beans,  bacon, egg, mushrooms, tomato and pork chipolata. I have no idea what chipolata is (look it up if you must know) but to me it sounds sort of like a pina colada with chocolate chips in it… They have a BLT waffle sandwich with the expected ingredients plus you can add avocado for $3 AUD. The mountain goat sounded tasty with goat cheese, smashed avocado, blueberry coulis and honey (see just add sweetness and I’m all over it). The Hot Spaniard is a waffle served with spicy chorizo, roasted red peppers, white beans in a spicy tomato sauce, topped with a poached egg and a side of sour cream. Any of the waffles can be made gluten free or vegan by substituting the regular waffle with a special coconut waffle.F1386955-EA6F-4427-8BA6-0B0A276AB5C0 I got greedy when I decided to order the Sir Eggs Benedict waffles and instead of bacon or mushrooms I got both (just another $3 AUD) PLUS I added goat cheese (just another $3 AUD) and oh my dear lord it was soooo worth that extra $3. I avoided the smoked salmon that was also an extra $3 because I have my limits, plus I can’t wrap my head around fish waffles… The mushrooms on the side were cut in thirds and complemented the Benedict perfectly. There was a MASSIVE pile of bacon that would send any pork lovin’ fool straight to heaven, pass go and DO collect that $200 because you are worth it. Anyway I loved the mushrooms but the bacon tasted different to me. I’m guessing it’s an Australian vs American bacon thing and I’m not about to get in the middle of that food fight. Honestly I’m sometimes a bit squirrelly about meat and large piles of it sort of freak me out… I know, I know, I’m in therapy for this, we’re working on it. I ate half the food and desperately wanted to inhale the other half but as someone who reviews a fair number of restaurants (and we’re not talking the sprouts and salads sort of restaurants) I’ve got to go easy on the portions or I’ll have to by my clothes in extra stretchy sizes. 

The waffle was lightly sweet so it didn’t taste weird (yes, I was afraid it might) with the eggs Benedict. The waffle complemented the eggs and hollandaise perfectly (eggs to waffle: “you look lovely today” hollandaise to waffle “Dahling you are simply divine!”). The whole thing was pure perfection.

To finish it all off (or to start) there are some healthy and not so healthy drink choices to include the normal coffees and teas but also fresh juice, smoothies, some decadent sounding shakes, and fresh fruit crushes.

and I’d travel on a plane for 10 hours to come back and have one of these again! In fact… I may sneak over there before my conference tomorrow to sample another one of these delightful waffle extravaganza creations.

Closed on Monday and open 7:30 am to 1:00 pm all other days.

64 Shields Street, Cairns, QLD, 4870 Australia

+61 429 930 921


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Cafe Seaside Hanon – Breakfast By the Sea Where You Can BYOD (Bring Your Own Dog)

LRG_DSC00127Café Seaside Hanon is one of my very favorite breakfast places in Okinawa and of course because it is on my list, you know that means it is dog friendly as well. If you have a big dog make sure you are capable of lifting him/her because in order to get to the dog friendly area you must carry your fuzzy friend through the restaurant. Also if your dog is a non-stop yapper that is a deal breaker (or a meal breaker…) and is about the last thing those who are drinking their first cappuccino of the day want to endure.fullsizeoutput_6878

Stepping out onto their patio you are transported to Santorini, Greece. The balcony seating area is built with soothing gray flagstone floors and white stucco walls with benches seamlessly built in, gently sloping and impressively comfortable for concrete! It helps that the benches are stacked with vibrant azure blue pillows to lounge on and round silver gray cotton mats to keep a layer between you and the cold concrete (picture a large gray coaster that instead of setting under your glass you set under your… ahem).

White net curtains are pulled back making the place look tropical and inviting. The patio looks out over the tropical turquoise Okinawan sea (well technically it’s the East China Sea, but the part you can seen belongs to Okinawa…). fullsizeoutput_6bfbDetails are key, from a potted olive tree, ceiling fans, space heaters, designated dog bowls, to the baskets stacked with cozy blankets for those who get chilly (or need a nap after a big breakfast). fullsizeoutput_6875The inside of the restaurant is just as beautiful but is dog free (except for the occasional dog being carried through on the way to or from the patio).ahaje8403.jpg

Word of warning – if you want the eggs Benedict pancakes they only sell 20 orders on weekends and 10 on weekdays so you’d better get here early because they are guaranteed to sell out! Got here one day at 1130 and I was totally out of luck ordering this. I came at 8:15 am this time and waited patiently until they opened at 9:00 am just so I could get the elusive and sought after eggs Benedict. Then I noticed that the limited time selection for the month of May was lemon curd pancakes and when asked which she would choose, the waitress said she’d just tried them and heartily recommended them, so of course I decided on the limited edition pancakes. I made the mistake passing on limited edition strawberry French toast at another restaurant once and have regretted it ever since – far be it from me to add any more regrets to my list. fullsizeoutput_6c14Oh and I’d been fantasizing about Seaside Café Hanon’s cheese French pancakes (they blend cream cheese into the batter then dip them and toast them on both sides like French toast) since last time I ate there and tried them but there were no substitutions for the regular Mihama pancakes (touted as being made with whole milk from Hokkaido) that come with the lemon curd pancake order. Of course as I’m an all or nothing kind of girl, I got it all. Yep I got an order of cheese French pancakes as a side on my pancake order. IMG_7594I love that the waitress didn’t bat an eye at my carbo-loading shenanigans. I also ordered iced café mocha because that’s just how I roll on Sunday mornings. The beautiful thing about getting there before the crowd is that if you are one of the first few in line they will take your order and have it ready for you shortly after you sit down. Well, I just realized that I’m shooting myself in the foot here by giving up this information and may have a larger crowd to contend with now… Maybe you should just go ahead and sleep in. You’ll get here when you get here – and I’ll be long gone, with my tummy full and happy on my way home for a nap.

IMG_4403Your morning meal starts with a happy little surprise or as the French call it, an amuse-bouche (mouth amuser) in the form of a small serving of crème brûlée that is sheer perfection (the only imperfection is that it is in a teeny tiny little bowl so leaves you craving more – but it’s free so really just stop your complaining already).fullsizeoutput_6876

The lemon curd pancakes (920 yen or around $8.50 US at the current yen rate) were a thing of beauty and delectability (is that a word? It must be because my auto correct didn’t seem to take issue with it…). The curd is a decadent creamy lemon topping, sour, sweet, and indulgently rich generously poured over the pancakes. This deliciousness is then topped with a dollop of whipped cream and a thin lemon slice beret (well of course the well dressed pancake MUST have a hat – and what could be more sophisticated and suave than a lemon beret?). These fluffy lemon curd pancakes were as good as they sound (unless you didn’t like my description, in that case they were much better than they sound) and it was all I could do to leave half (since I was also devouring the cheese French pancakes and didn’t plan ahead by wearing stretch pants). fullsizeoutput_6678Now onto the cheese French pancakes. These are on my list of reasons to get out of bed in the morning, reasons to come to Seaside Café Hanon, and reasons to live. Yes they are THAT good. Again, I left a half portion because of the pants to waist dilemma but the waitress was kind enough to wrap up the remaining halves for me in a to-go box (so I could have my pancake and eat it too). When I’m on my deathbed if you bring me some of these cheese French pancakes I’ll jump up and dance a jig, thank you profusely, then place an order for more to be delivered the next day. Plus I’ll add you to my will. Really. So why pray tell are they that good? I don’t know but I do know that I love cream cheese, I love pancakes, and I love French toast. Now mix all three together and you’ve got the winning trifecta. IMG_7584On a previous visit I had these cheese French pancakes topped with a mixed berry sauce (called “Berry berry cute pancake”), throwing the whole experience into overdrive and making my taste buds sing with glee. Ok weird imagery, I’ll try to dial it back a notch. IMG_4405Other options for pancakes include chocolate chip, the chocolate banana carnival pancake (it sounds quite festive), apple cinnamon pancake, salted caramel pancake, and purple yam millefeuille. If you needmore than “just” pancakes for breakfast they have the egg & meat pancake (served on the side and not IN the pancake), “chillibeans pancake” (chili cheese beans with extra large sausage with homemade pickles). LRG_DSC00147My iced chocolate mocha tasted like decadent chocolate milk for adults and made me so very happy to be an adult (or at least to have people fooled into thinking I’m one). On other occasions I’ve tried their hot cafe mocha and caramel macchiato and both were the perfect blend of warm, rich, and sweet (like I like my men) and a beautiful way to start breakfast. IMG_0863They have a plethora of coffee drinks so if you want it, they’ll likely have it. Their other drinks include juices, soft drinks, Italian sodas, granite (sherbet-like icy drink with fresh juice), or if you have that “it’s 5:00 somewhere” mentality, then they have Orion and Corona beer or Awamori cocktails.

IMG_6358Another thing I appreciated was that ordering scrambled eggs for my dog didn’t even produce a raised eyebrow, in fact the waitress came back a moment later with two dog bowls and asked which one my dog would prefer the eggs in (the other was for water). fullsizeoutput_6c41I tell you I’m madly in love with this restaurant for these reasons alone. Oh but there is so much more to this restaurant than non-judgmental servers and dog friendly seating.
The restaurant fills up fast so be prepared to put your name on the list and wait patiently for something so good you’ll forget all about having had to wait. So if you like amazing pancakes, a stunning view of the sea while you dine, and dog friendly restaurants this is the place for you.fullsizeoutput_6c01
With 2 orders of pancakes, iced café mocha, and a side of scrambled eggs for my dog Pickles the total came to about 2400 yen or about $22 at today’s yen rate – a great deal for such an exquisite breakfast in such a stunning location!

fullsizeoutput_6867Seaside Café Hanon is up Tuesday to Friday 11am – 7pm, Saturday & Sunday 9am-7pm, Japanese holiday 9am – 7pm and closed ever Monday or the day after Japanese National holiday. Last order for food is at 6pm and last drink order is at 6:30 pm.

+81 98-989-0653

9-39 Mihama Oak Fashion Building 2F, Chatan-cho, Nakagami-gun 904-0115 Okinawa Prefecture, Japan Phone: +81 98-989-0653fullsizeoutput_6c30

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Mi Casa Es Su Casa at Coffee Casa

I found this little gem a number of years ago and re-discover it again every few years. The only reason I don’t frequent it more often is because it fills up fast if you get there during prime breakfast hours on weekends and there is generally a 30 min or more wait to get your food (everything is prepared fresh and there isn’t enough room in the kitchen and behind the counter for more than a small number of staff members). A3C04EE9-D60B-4B3D-94CE-C19E1BB694B4By the time I decide where I want to eat breakfast I’m usually too hungry to wait in line and then wait for food (as delicious as it is, patience is not generally one of my strengths – especially when my tummy is growling). I was wandering along the Tsunabi Sea Wall with Pickles (not the food, my dog) and searching for a dog friendly breakfast place when I suddenly remembered Coffee Casa.82B5286A-6398-4070-B2F3-0FA24A97E8E3.jpegMy stomach wasn’t growling too loud so, despite the fact that it was 0830 on a Saturday morning (the equivalent to morning rush hour at Coffee Casa), I knew I could handle whatever kind of wait time they threw at me – so today was re-discovery day! B019DC5E-9B18-42D1-B1ED-8A0E8C5509CFThe food is delicious and portions are Japanese size and to me that’s just right (if you are expecting Denny’s sized portions you will be seriously disappointed – but think of all the weight you’ll lose if you start eating normal sized portions again) and the menu is varied enough to appeal to pretty much everyone in your group. Their coffee is delicious and includes the usual suspects as well as banana mocha, almond mocha, coconut latte, and something’s called “SPAZ” which is 4 shots of espresso with chocolate and hazel and is guaranteed to make you spaz out – if not from the delightful taste then definitely from the amount of caffeine… Being more of a traditionalist and a little too sensitive to caffeine to risk the SPAZ, I instead went with my usual cafe mocha. 889DFF2E-141F-445B-A255-E6B43DB5F31FI usually get it hot but the sun was blazing and I was sitting on the porch with no shade so instead went for iced. It came out looking like a milkshake and tasted like chocolate + coffee + heaven. The fancy coffee drinks range from 440 yen to 650 yen for the large sizes (yes, that 650 is for the SPAZ) and you can do add ons like shots of espresso for only 50 yen (because obviously having only 4 shots of espresso is for sissies) 5574A7EA-C9C7-4C49-9024-BF58762ABB41or another shot of syrup (vanilla, caramel, almond, banana, coconut, or chocolate) for 50 yen, a shot of soy for 50 yen (I haven’t quite figured out why I would want a shot of soy but hey I’m sure there’s someone out there jonesing for just one more shot of soy), or if you are living large (and want to get larger) a scoop of ice cream for 100 yen. I just noticed that they have a coffee dessert called Afogato for 300 yen (1 shot of espresso poured over vanilla ice cream). Yum. My dance card was full this time so it’s on my to do next time list. There were drip coffees and you can choose from Mocha French, Brazil, or the monthly special.

If you still haven’t had your fill of ice cream they have coffee base smoothies of varying flavors for 500 yen. They have a list of teas (including Chai tea latte) for 380-480 yen. Oh but wait, if you want MORE ice cream you can go for a fruit smoothie (380-580 yen) with flavors like coconut pineapple, 3 berry banana, and mango pineapple though on the menu it is spelled “painapple” which is a description of the pain you will be in if you keep ordering ice cream despite the fact that you are lactose intolerant. If you just want a simple damn shake stop griping and order one (vanilla, mango, chocolate banana, or green tea) for 540 yen.

Now that your thirst has been quenched, on to the food! Breakfast plates come with 2 scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage, or spam (a perennial Japanese favorite). Toast plates are 650-700 yen (butter toast, apple custard, cheese toast, blueberry cream toast). AA86DEC1-5E92-4703-A4F3-436FB5860506The pancake plates are 750 yen (plain with butter, blueberry, or banana), French toast plates come with banana, blueberry, and whip cream. 10A9A3B3-EA7B-4A5C-BF4C-49DED4E0960BMy all time favorite is their bagel plate (or Bagle if you are reading directly from the menu – look stop bitching about the spelling and just be grateful they have an English menu). The bagel plate comes with cream cheese or butter or their very own sun-dried tomato spread (HEAVENLY) and being the little piglet that I am I go over the top and order the sun-dried tomato AND the cream cheese (and when I’m feeling REALLY wild I get all three – yes, I am the occasional high roller). Bagel plate will NOT be pictured here because although it is the most beautiful thing my taste buds have had the good luck to sample here it is the least beautiful thing on the menu. No amount of photo shopping could fix that. Trust me I tried. They have a breakfast burrito which I have had on past occasions and give a two thumbs up. The burrito is 700 yen and has 2 eggs, spicy sausage, cheese, hash browns, and homemade salsa all rolled up in an 11 inch tortilla. BF8211B5-7B16-4104-B2D2-46CF426D378F
If you are not all that hungry because you ate before you got there since you knew there would be a wait (smart person – remind me to make friends with you), or you’re one of those odd blokes who isn’t hungry in the morning, or you’re on a date and want to pretend that you have a tiny little appetite (before going home and polishing off half a chocolate cake), or you’ve scrounged up all the yen from your car and couch cushions and have less than 500 yen, then go ahead and order the “lite breakfast” – either a lite plate (1 scrambled egg, 2 small pieces of bacon, sausage, or spam and your choice of their homemade bread or small butter toast), or a Focaccia Brekky Pizza (with bacon, sliced boiled egg and cheese with their homemade pizza sauce). I can vouch for the Focaccia Brekky Pizza – it is something I order on the side when I’m feeling particularly gluttonous or order with a bunch of sides to make it a full size meal. Another lite breakfast is the Casa Set which is advertised as a no carbohydrate plate yet has hash browns (being a high carb kind of girl I think this may be the only version of a low carb diet I could actually do) 2 eggs, bacon, sausage, or spam. The last option for you 500 yen and under crowd is a granola bowl with milk. B6A6738D-73B1-4C31-80D7-53EF33834EA8
The lunch items on their menu include hot and cold sandwiches from 500-700 yen (to include a potato salad sandwich… carbs + carbs? Sign me up), a Casa’s chicken sandwich on chapati Indian bread (it sounds seriously delicious and this is also on my must order next time list) AND you can add the Casa’s homemade sun-dried tomato spread for only 50 yen more – DO IT!!! There is a homemade soup set with potato salad and Casa’s homemade bread, small butter toast, or focaccia bread. Naan pizza is 700 yen and you can choose from Hawaiian or tomato and mozzarella.

If you need more food and are trying to work back up to those Denny’s sized portions, you are in luck because they have 11 possible sides you can add to any and/or all of the choices above and these range from 50 yen for cheese, 150 yen for hash browns, to 350 yen for yogurt with fruit.

There is also a kids menu with a no caffeine drink list (though feel free to order your toddler a SPAZ if you want to stay busy for the rest of the day and burn off all those breakfast calories chasing him/her around). Finally they have some very tasty looking homemade breakfast cakes/breads (today was orange-berry, blueberry coffee cake, and cinnamon walnut bread).6F42B2BE-27FD-4745-B634-EE157194BFAA If you want to be the cool person at your office potluck with the most amazing homemade bread/cake then if you order 5 days in advance you can choose from lemon coconut bread, banana bread, orange & berry bread (each is 1800 yen), or blueberry coffee cake (3080 yen – because YES it’s worth it!). No one is going to know if you try to pass it off as your own… Ethical schmethical. Unless of course they are a Coffee Casa fan, then I’m afraid your cover is blown Betty Crocker.

They have a wooden deck out front with 3 tables (1 seats 3 people, 1 seats 4 and the other seats 2 people). 512306DF-543F-4D7A-AE9A-DFC1AFD208A8This is the dog friendly area of the cafe and you can almost always find at least 1 or 2 dogs lounging about with their humans. The cafe has a couple plastic bowls at the ready for just such occasions and since Pickles tends to BYOB (bring your own bowl) for water, I used the extra bowl to serve her scrambled eggs to her (she isn’t called Princess Pickles for nothing…).E8291473-C85C-451D-829E-9BE0F1D8820D
Inside the restaurant has wooden floors, tables, and chairs and concrete and brick walls decorated with colorful paintings and other art that may or may not be for sale (and if it’s not if you offer them enough they are bound to eventually cave in and let you take it home).96B0A3A2-D2B0-4D6A-ADEF-404E013C4C85 There is a short row of movie theater seats at the entrance so that you can sit and wait for your table and watch people ordering at the counter and pretend you are watching the slowest action movie ever. There are about 6 tables inside so, as I mentioned at the beginning of this post, the place fills up fast during prime breakfast hours on weekends. 982A0F9A-604A-49D8-BD61-30800DD8B165
Parking is at a premium in this area so it may take some searching if their lot is already full. Do NOT park in front of any of the homes outside or you will be interrupted midway through breakfast and asked to move. They have a sign just inside the cafe explaining where not to park so you can run outside and call a do-over before one of the rightfully grumpy neighbors comes over to complain that yet ANOTHER customer has parked in front of their house. EBBF7756-5E76-46E8-B4DE-758F540A93C9

The hours for Casa Coffee are 0700 – 1700 and they are closed Tuesday.
Address: 〒904-0113 沖縄県Nakagami-gun, 北谷Miyagi, 3-51宮城
Phone: 098-936-8141

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KAIHOLO CAFE – Get some breakfast and the aloha spirit on Okinawa

A901804B-D722-4B7D-AA8F-9688AFD9C063Kaiholo Cafe’s motto is “Good Morning Foods & Pet Friendly!!” It is one of my favorite Onna breakfast spots. They serve excellent pancakes in flavors from Macadamia to coconut to chocolate chip etc. AND you can add extra toppings (like the ice cream I added to my coconut pancakes) for only 100 yen. With the coconut whipped cream and ice cream it tasted scrumptious – a bit like creamy marshmallow topping (though I have a good imagination so you may wonder what the heck I’m talking about when you try it). 27820219-6728-4735-A00E-9518EB207B46Their cafe mocha is excellent (hard for me to find places that serve a good mocha on island). The theme is Hawaiian and the place has two small rooms one with 2 tables and the other with 3 or 4 tables.

CC0C1B7C-9F04-42F1-AF13-066ACC542740Dogs are allowed and when I tried to bring my Rottweiler years ago they said she needed “curtesy pants” which after some back and forth I learned meant doggy diaper. I didn’t have any at the time so didn’t get to come in. This time I came prepared with curtesy pants but put them in my purse so that I didn’t needlessly put the humiliation pants (how my dog Pickles refers to the diapers). She’s MUCH smaller than my Rottweiler and they didn’t bat an eye and didn’t ask her to put on “pants’. They also brought her a little bowl of water that looked like a teddy bear face. She’s kind of an adorable weirdo and doesn’t like to drink water out of unfamiliar bowls (she’s even iffy about drinking out of her own. travel bowl) so she didn’t touch it until we were about to leave and finally realized she was parched so deigned to drink out of a “strange” bowl.44CA4FBC-5E11-4802-89C4-BCFFC06B722D

The owners/waitstaff are friendly and quick to get your order (but you do have to catch their attention – once you do they come right over). The food came out quickly and it was simply delicious. 773847D4-F14C-46AF-8F73-EBF23D0035A8Items on the menu include Açaí Bowl for 800 yen, Pitaya Bowl for 700 yen, smoothies from 500-600 yen, waffles (original, strawberry & whipped cream, Seasonal fruit, Haupia – otherwise known as coconut, banana & chocolate, and peanut butter) range from 500-900 yen. They also serve Omelettes that come with 2 original pancakes or ½ original waffle for 700-900 yen. You can also get extra toppings with these for 100 yen and you can get the 200 yen add on for a drink to be included.. They have sandwiches with French fries (BLT, Ham & Egg, Fish, Crispy Chicken) all for 700-800 yen. They have a category called “Muffin”and I’m guessing they mean English muffins since they offer both eggs Benedict and bacon eggs chili muffin (800-900 yen). The side menu is 500 yen for anything listed and includes fried potatoes (French fries), garlic potato, chili & cheese potato, fish & chips, chicken nuggets, crispy chicken, Macaroni & cheese. Extra toppings are 100 yen and it seems as though you can add them to anything you want – your pancakes, waffles, omlettes, sandwiches, etc. (ice cream, whipped cream, Hawaiian honey, 100% pure maple syrup, chocolate, caramel, bacon, sausage, spam, eggs, chili). Yummy – I think I’ll have maple syrup on my eggs Benedict… LOL. Add a drink to any of the meals for just 200 yen.

DD63A207-C4AA-4B2B-8E4A-695131BE51CEThere’s a list of the usual coffees you’d expect to find on a breakfast menu as well as honey latte and cold pearl latte (350-400 yen each). Teas include regular, honey milk tea, or cold berry apple tea (350-400 yen). There are some fruity sodas (berry, pineapple, mango, or lilikoi) for 350 yen, several kinds of juices (300-350 yen) and beer to include either Hawaiian beer or Orion beer (800 & 400 yen respectively)

The total for a cafe mocha and Hawaiian pancakes with an added scoop of ice cream (as you my have gleaned from my previous posts I’m a sweetaholic and tend to eat dessert for breakfast) was 1300 yen and I could only eat 3 of the 5 pancakes (and that was pushing it). The coconut sauce was sweet and yummy and they sprinkled shredded coconut over the pancakes as well. Money well spent and because I could bring my dog I was over the moon about the place.6A429982-D245-44B7-BB86-EFE5CCA1CD06 They have a little fluffy dachshund (Hana) who wanders around the restaurant pleading for food (despite all the signs CLEARLY saying please don’t feed her since she was dying from food allergies – obviously Hana cannot read so is oblivious to the fact that she is not supposed to be eating people food. D79B56F5-DF17-4F88-BE27-E4032B77F4DEPeople seem to be quite good at resisting her adorable pleading (the idea that you might kill her if you feed her probably helps). Their other dog is a sweet and shy old Shelty named Aki and only comes out when beckoned by his owner.F82B0D17-F55B-46A0-9284-F7B26D11AF2E

This sweet little Hawaiian breakfast spot is always on my “must do” list when I go to Onna. Plus it doesn’t hurt that it is only a few Kilometers away from dog friendly Mission Beach!

07DA186C-9AD3-40F5-84CD-57AD61EEA733HOURS: 7:00 am – 5:00 pm and they seem to be open daily
(their card says “closed: irregular”)

6978-1-2F Onna, Onna-son Kunigami-Gun-gun, Okinawa, 904-0411, Japan.
Phone # 098-955-2597
Website: http://www.kaiholocafe.com
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/KaiholoCafe

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Hale Noa Cafe – Yes Virginia there is a place you can eat breakfast before 9:00 a.m. in Japan

HALE NOA CAFÉ 922E94C5-BAEF-4100-AF30-150CA5666A60
Hale Noa Café is a cute little spot for breakfast and brunch and is one of the few places in Okinawa that actually opens at a decent breakfast hour (7:00 am). Most places in Okinawa seem to open at 9:00 am which is almost lunch time in my world. This small café has a Hawaiian theme and has a small outdoor seating area on a wooden deck. CC9AF276-8EF8-466F-B7ED-813262706FC3You can sit facing the street on one of the benches outside or at the small table for 4 also outside on the lanai (see how I snuck that Hawaiian word for balcony in there…) if your timing is right and you have a party of at least 3-4. This is perfect for those who enjoy bringing their dogs to breakfast. 5C9E9FBD-441C-4BF4-A604-89601C1D4A44If you want to spoil your pup you can even order a side of scrambled eggs (300 yen) for Fido/Spot/Pickles (just tell them it’s for your dog so they put it in a plastic container). 6E467A45-E88B-48BD-86DB-D0F783EF9691The inside of the restaurant is small but welcoming and there are maybe 6 wooden tables so the place fills up fast. It is a light filled space and the entire front wall of the restaurant is actually not a wall but is instead floor to ceiling glass windows overlooking the front porch. 2E5BCAE7-9C66-4F78-9CB3-7718D587A06BThe café boasts hardwood floors, a giant Hawaiian beach mural painted on one wall with the opposite wall a soothing butter yellow, hung with pictures with the same theme. A33DA199-774C-4A80-8CC4-3D2FF3989C38Small crystal chandeliers hang throughout the dining room and on the wall behind the cash register is a chalk board listing smoothies (Ginger Ninja, Beet it, Berry Berry, Power Green, and Tropical Sunrise all priced from 500 – 650 yen), drinks to include Orion beer for 700 yen if that’s what you consider part of a healthy breakfast… or more morning friendly drinks like orange, mango, guava, or apple juice (all 400 yen), and the specials. The other drinks listed include Hawaiian blend coffee, coconut coffee (this one gets 2 thumbs up from me), café latte, cappuccino, and a variety of Hawaiian teas. There is usually a wait if you get there after 9:00 am, so just add your name to the waiting list on a clipboard outside and check out Maybe Bakery next door (it’s definitely a bakery, no maybes about it) if you need something to tide you over while you wait.C9AAD95D-CF0F-4EBA-8091-47912F6F981E
The menu has both breakfast items and lunch items depending on whether you want the breakfast part of brunch or the lunch part of brunch. There are pancakes from plain (400 yen) to macadamia (1100 yen) to granola (1200 yen). The last comes with granola, banana, chocolate sauce, and whip cream (not as healthy as it first sounded is it?). My favorite is the variety of French toast selections to include Elvis French toast for 1400 yen (which I have not yet tried but plan to on a morning when I’m feeling sassy and adventurous) which comes stuffed with peanut butter, has banana, bacon, and whip cream on it and is then artfully topped with a salt caramel sauce (just in case you weren’t in a diabetic coma yet). The Blue Berry Cream Cheese French Toast (1100 yen) is phenomenal and is stuffed with blueberry cream cheese, and is topped with banana and whip cream. E2BAF3B8-87BE-47AF-94E3-49C11A4A5D51Another favorite of mine is their signature French Toast – Hale Noa French Toast (1100 yen) with mixed berry sauce and crème brulee sauce drizzled generously over the top. C72EC47C-78CD-41E5-80F1-B32A67A3EAA9If you prefer your French Toast without the bells and whistles (less noisy that way), plain old French Toast is only 500 yen.
A “Dirty Omelette” (I’m guessing it’s called this because of the variety of tasty things you can throw in – not because they drop it on the floor before it is given to you) with added ingredients costing from 50- 300 yen each. It comes with 2 eggs and cheese with has the normal add-ins available like mushroom, onion, tomato etc. but also the option of unique things like Kalua pork or smoked salmon (that’s the add-in for high rollers at 300 yen). For an extra 200 yen you get a “set” which means you also get pancakes or rice (because it’s Japan and that’s how they do it) with your omelette. 0F2A409E-FD62-46E8-B2C0-0F0B42AF73A7It is extra for sides like toast, rice (yes I told you they love this stuff), country potatoes (OMG if you like breakfast potatoes these are sheer deliciousness and only 300 yen), bacon, sausage, or salad. 9AFDF4D9-9DF2-4E42-BF58-5A7F53C136C6One star of the menu is their eggs benedict (1200 yen). They have 4 varieties to choose from: bacon, Kalua pork, smoke salmon, or avocado and best of all you can mix and match (try 2 different ones or stay in your comfort zone and just have one kind). I highly recommend the Kalua pork – it was surprisingly good! I was expecting that I was going to take a bite and then leave the rest while inhaling the bacon eggs benedict but I was so very wrong and at the end of breakfast my plate was remarkably clean (yes I licked my plate when no one was looking).B42090C9-16E2-4671-9932-728C53666328
“The Hawaiian Eat” part of the menu is lunch type items to include a Hawaiian bowl (1100 yen) with spice Ahi Poke, Lomi Lomi salmon and Kalua pork. The Poke bowl comes with your choice of spice or soy sauce and includes Ahi Poke, Onion, Seaweed, and Avocado and is 1300 yen. There is Kalua Cabbage Loco Moco with Kalua Pork, cabbage, scrambled eggs, cheese, and gravy sauce (1300 yen). Then there’s the Beef Loco Moco with premium island Wagyu beef burger, scrambled eggs, cheese, and gravy sauce for 1500 yen. Garlic shrimp served with rice and Lomi Lomi salmon is 1500 yen. Finally the grilled salmon consists of toast, salmon (really? That’s surprising), avocado, poached egg, hollandaise sauce and comes with a green salad for 1600 yen. 73ABA368-D6F9-4810-A97F-D5C77C219D5E
The English translation for Hale Noa, as best I can tell, is “sleeping house” in case you were wondering (I certainly was and it took a bit of searching to find the translation). But in this case it’s the house you come to after sleeping to fill your belly when all the rest of Japan is sleeping in. Hale Noa Café is in Chatan, near Araha beach. It’s across the street from Chocolate Jesus and has a few parking spots but the lot fills up fast since it is also parking for an apartment that is nearby. Do NOT park at Chocolate Jesus. I’m not sure what will happen to you and whether it involves torture or towing or perhaps a shame sign glued to the back windshield of your car. Quick aside… I had a “sign of shame” glued to my back windshield during the early years of my stay here in Okinawa when I parked near the sea wall in the wrong parking lot, and trust me it worked – I felt very ashamed. Plus it took a LOT of work to scrape it off my window. At any rate the restaurant has a sign warning you not to park there, so just don’t risk it.

Hale Noa Cafe
〒904-0116 Okinawa Prefecture, Nakagami District, 北谷町北谷2丁目18−6
Phone: 098-989-8244
Hours: Thursday-Tuesday
7AM–2PM and CLOSED on Wednesday

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Come Play in the Sandbox With Me

53361408-0682-4025-A36D-D42F03CB868CI found this place on Okinawa Foodies page on Facebook and with all the rave reviews knew I had to try the place. My only fear in writing this review is that I’ll never get back in here due to the flocks of people hungry for a great burger that are bound to descend upon this place once they discover it. That’s the selfish part of me talking. The share the wealth of knowledge of deliciousness part of me caved in and has decided to share despite my fears.01D3513F-10F3-40BA-9D69-A677F1A3935B

The place is in the Chatan area a few steps from my favorite taco spot in Okinawa – Tacos Ya (review for that restaurant will be coming soonish) and across the street from a shopping complex with a San A grocery store, Chinese food restaurant, and Toyota U-Car shop. It’s a right turn from the street that curves into the sea wall just before it curves around to the water. The restaurant is on the second floor and is wood floors,tables,benches, and is open with natural light flowing in through the windows. 70B69D40-8DCD-4899-9F3E-F3EAE0C4B0ABIt had modern hanging bare lights, some huge lights that look like those old school hair dryers that ladies would sit under with curlers in their hair. 8EE51866-A1C4-48CF-941B-7EC817C315D0There’s a rustic wooden bar with 7 stools and yes, they serve alcohol for those in need of a libation. There’s free Wi-Fi as well.079E446A-DDC6-4724-A61F-02192DF9674A

The burgers are ¥1380 yen and include fries and unlimited soft drinks. The kids meal is only ¥780 and includes a cookie. I got the Sandbox burger which had cheese bacon avocado, fried and lightly breaded onions, and their special sauce which tasted slightly vinegarish with a slight chili flavor. The burger was thick and incredibly fresh. A4320DCA-8D71-4D28-B3C8-91F304E74A1EAnd the homemade grilled brioche bun was delicious, that alone would’ve been enough to make me swoon. The only downside was that it was so soft that the bottom got a tad soggy. The burgers are served with shoestring fries that were a homemade version of my shameful favorite secret addiction (McDonalds fries). I could only eat about half the burger and ⅓ of rhe fries because it was wonderfully rich and filled me up. 6ECC0DED-E21C-4DD1-B639-E8A4DD6C1E7EAlso, if I’m going to be honest here, I was saving room for one of their desserts. Hey it wouldn’t really be right for me to go to the trouble of reviewing this place and not try the dessert… I’m looking out for YOU here – it’s a purely selfless act.6DE5F4FB-D150-4770-B9F5-92AF9C38E5FA I was torn between the brownie and ice cream and the coconuts lemon tart (¥390). On the recommendation of the owner I went with the coconut lemon tart (though he did look torn, noting sadly that the tart didn’t come with ice cream). 29B0E878-34B5-4A58-B703-C1A7ABFB8958It was phenomenal just sweet enough with a beautiful lightly sweetened crust, sweet and tart lemon filling, and a thick coconut cake/crust base. Definitely the right recommendation, though I will have to return to test the brownie and ice cream as well as the umami burger with truffle oil, mushrooms, Parmesan, and Gorgonzola cheese.46D695DF-6502-4FD4-826D-2AA22F6DFE16

This place is simple yet beautiful, plays chill music (Nora Jones was serenading us in the background), has Wi-Fi for those who can’t bear to go offline, has a small but tasty menu, caters to burger lovers, fries aficionados, alcohol enthusiasts, soda swillers, and the dessert desperate and gets my two enthusiastic thumbs up.C2CC47C1-5E38-4E60-8937-224B039AD1F6

Open Tuesday – Thursday 1100-1500 and 1800-2400  Friday & Saturday 1100-1500 and 1800-0100                              Sunday 1100-1500                                                                         Closed Monday                                                                   Phone# 0989891883                                                      Facebook: Sandbox Burgers (for map/directions)                    Visa, American Express, Master Card and ¥ accepted





This Acorn is Definitely Not Squirrel Food


Acorn is at the top of many lists for best restaurants in Denver and a reservation is a definite must.891D1ABB-14F1-4162-9F35-26A46D3C4DCB The road outside the restaurant is under construction but to make up for the inconvenience they do free valet parking. The restaurant is in a big old brick warehouse where several other restaurants and shops also do business. We were taken to the 2nd floor and given a table in the middle of the small space. 0EC90507-8804-409F-BD38-2D67F60E784DThe menu has a section of small plates to share as well as a small section of very large courses to share. We decided on 7 dishes for our table of 4 people and this turned out to be perfect, and left a bit of room for dessert. During the meal our waiters were attentive and their movements seemed like a specially choreographed dance, clearing plates and silverware and bringing new along with the next delightful bit of our meal. The first dish was Pimento cheese and was my absolute favorite. DCF936F2-A8B0-4CC9-963C-3A0C460E2922It came with a small jar of pimento cheese topped with roasted anaheim pepper, bacon jam, and served with insanely delicious grilled bread. The combination of the perfectly toasted bread along with the cheese was heavenly.  The waiters were kind enough to bring more bread when they saw that we’d inhaled the bread yet still had more cheese with nowhere to spread it (perhaps they sensed that I was getting ready to slather it onto my plate and lick it off). The next course was coal roasted beets, basically a beet salad, that was surprisingly tasty, especially considering I’m not normally a fan of beets at all. It had goat cheese, arugula, carmelized dried dates, and radicchio.2B9D7652-14C6-47F2-89BE-07A26EACB409The dressing had just the right amount of tanginess and the veggies were shredded and curled (not sure how just know it gave it a nice texture and the taste was just right). The wood fired baby yams were not as fabulous as I’d hoped since I’m a huge fan of all things yam. This dish came with cashew, sesame, mandarin, sherry, and puréed yams. FF7866A2-9A51-4283-9F02-34F2417759FDThe meatballs were lackluster and tasted like, well, like meatballs. No pizazz, no umph, just meatballs. Pricey ones with uninspiring flavor. BA88E818-9167-4727-B94F-B90A3489890CThere was a clam course which I was not a fan of but then I don’t like clams so I’m not a good judge. 034B8F85-AFCD-4C07-B3DE-24DDF0822663My mother, whose birthday we were celebrating absolutely adored them but she is also very easily pleased (a WONDERFUL characteristic by the way when someone is just as thrilled to go to Red Lobster as they are to go to a Michelin star restaurant). There was a course that had kale and gnocchi  and other ingredients that I no longer remember but what I do remember is that we all gave it a thumbs up.B244E2E0-F70B-416D-B917-BCEA0FB186C1
For dessert we ordered a chocolate semifreddo which had swiss meringue and graham cracker crust and it was okay but sadly not at all impressive.586C4DBC-5AA7-4197-8BA5-403206B4461E The waiter was kind enough to also bring deconstructed s’mores for her complete with birthday candles! These were pretty good but not phenomenal (how phenomenal can one make marshmallows, drizzled chocolate, and graham cracker crumbs taste though?). What I loved the most was the service. It was spot on and spectacular. This restaurant is a well-oiled machine with some very tasty dishes and others that may leave you unimpressed. 7532CE0F-6D01-4455-963E-20C59E72C316The restaurant has a high open ceiling and is not at all cozy or romantic (it was a birthday dinner for my mom so definitely no problem with that, just wanted to let you know it’s not a romantic night out kind of place).

They’d Like to Collectively Wish You a Good Morning

Walking in on a cold icy morning, Morning Collective seemed warm but unimpressive, sort of like the kind of restaurant I went to with my parents in the 70’s. Very casual and generic looking. Despite the “meh” atmosphere, the menu contained a variety of delectable looking items, with several kinds of eggs Benedict to include coffee braised short rib Benedict (heartily recommended by the waiter) that apparently included bone marrow infused potato, carrot and leek base bacon hollandaise, ham Benedict advertised as made from TENDER BELLY ham (yes, all in caps), and veggie Benedict. multiple flavors of French toast to include stuffed Tres Leches (YES please – this one is fantastic and was recommended by my waiter – not too sweet but delightfully decadent topped with perfect slivers of strawberry), stuffed banana hazelnut, stuffed strawberry cheesecake, seasonal (which was a tasty apple crumble), and of course traditional for those afraid of a bit of adventure (AKA French toast purists). 08E8536A-E9A7-4CC2-A8F1-62AD1E55FAD3.jpegYou can mix and match the flavors which is perfect for those of us (me) who can’t decide. Plus the menu included a variety of normal breakfast fare like scrambles, flapjacks, and since it’s Colorado, a “wake and bake” burrito. I went with a cafe mocha (good but not mind blowing good like the one I had at Snooze), the tres leches French toast (perfect) and apple crumble French toast (a tad sweet for my liking) with an added order of TENDER BELLY (yes, all caps again) coffee braised bacon (sounded a bit like a hipster spa treatment) and house made “tater tots” (NOT tater tots) with a bacon aioli.5FD71D8A-7EC1-49F0-85F7-27611FAAE1A3.jpeg The tots were little pillow like potato puffs but were a tad unpleasant due to the grease factor. The bacon was fine but didn’t live up to the hype I’d created for it in my mind while reading the description. I’ll take full credit for the disappointment… the bacon tasted like bacon. Quality bacon but not mind blowing call your mother and tell her about it bacon. I haven’t yet found the mind blowing call my mother kind of bacon as of yet, but it is a personal quest of mine. I’d go back to try the short ribs Benedict and to have another dose of the tres leches French toast but I’d definitely avoid the grease tots.