Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Shima Cafe "La Monstera" : Breakfast before your flight

¥400 is pretty standard for a cup of jo and a bit of down time in a cafe, but there are some cafes (quite a few in the mountains of central Japan) that continue the tradition of "morning service."

Shima Cafe La❤️Monstera (Yes, there's a heart in the name, and yes, this is the former La Monstara with new ownership.) offers toast and a small salad with your coffee for just ¥100 yen more, or make that brown rice porridge and pickles instead of toast for ¥200. Also, the ice coffee (¥600) is very good if you like your coffee black and smooth.

This little spot is one of the few cafes serving breakfast in Yakushima, and it may be the only cafe here that serves only breakfast. Since it's just south of the airport, why not get up a little early and stop in for a final piece of quiet before a morning flight.

This is a monstera plant, but 
note that the sign is written:
Shima Cafe La❤️Monstera
Location: A few minutes south of the airport, near the Hayasaki (早崎) bus stop in the back of a small cluster of shops on the ocean-side of the road. (30.3746,130.6648)
Hours: 7am to 11am. Closed Wednesdays and Sundays.*

*Hours are subject to change, so please call the restaurant or check ahead

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Canopy Walk and Tree-House Cafe

If anything can bring out your inner-child like a walk in the Moss Forest full of babbling brooks and curious deer, it's got to be this DIY super-project: The Canopy Walk and Tree-House Cafe near Senpiro Waterfall.

Alright, before we go any further, if you can't handle a few six-legged friends, or if you're looking for Disney-style luxury and high-tech safety features, or if you expect to be repelling/belaying/bouldering, you're probably not ready for "Wild Level 1," let alone "Wild Level 5," which is Canopy-talk for, "Please proceed with caution."
While first-graders and up are welcome (If you have kids, bring them here!) everyone gets a belt with a clip that you are instructed to keep hooked on to the ropes at all times. Now if your ego is too much too wear a safety belt in the kids' house, you need to check that adult attitude in the parking lot. So, yes, , , ,

you will make wishes when you play ring toss. . .

you will proclaim the love of your life (Hope you brought your significant other as well as the kids!) to the mountains, , ,

, and for every step you take up into the tree tops, you'll peel back another year towards childhood!

The owner, in addition to speaking Japanese, Chinese, and English, is always coming up with new ideas and adding subtle surprises to the tree-walk, the parking lot, even the rest rooms!

The best addition is the Tree-House Cafe. This is a tree-house you rent out for the cost of a cup of coffee or juice (nothing fancy, but it's not really about the coffee). Call ahead to make a reservation, because there is only enough space for one party of conspirators in this tree-top hide-out.

Canopy Walk
Location: Haru 677-44 (30.24918, 130.57296) Southwest of Senpiro Waterfall.
Hours: 9am/10am~4pm/5pm depending on the day.*
Price: Around ¥1000 for adults, less for students, more if you do the "Canopy Rope" and ¥500 for the cafe.
Website: http://canopywalk.web.fc2.com/

Sunday, October 30, 2016

NAbura! -- Warm up after a hike with noodles in a friendly atmosphere.

(There is a new ramen shop in its place.)
After trudging through the rain for ten hours, I want nothing more than calories when I  get back to town. Local specialities like flying fish and sashimi are all good, but sometimes all you want is a bowel of noodles. And I'm not talking about chicken soup; I'm talking about ramen! Or even better. . . abura-men!

The literal translation of "abura-men" is "oil noodles," but don't let that turn you off. This is ramen without the broth water! Oh, I love the warm, salty greasyness of Kyushu-style ramen, but after a cold hike in the rain, sometimes I don't need my noodles to be soaked too! At NAbura, the signature dish comes in two phases: Phase 1 will fill your craving, and Phase 2 will fill your stomach!

Phase 1: When you order your noodles, the server will tell you to stir everything up as best you can. (You can add a little vinegar, too, but I like to save that for the next part. . . ) Even then, after you've slurped up the noodles, you're bound to end up with a pile scrumptious morsels at the bottom of the bowel. That's okay. In fact, do leave some extra morsels behind for the next phase!

Phase 2: Let the server know you've finished the noodles and he'll bring you a bowl of rice to dump atop the left-over morsels. I usually order the "Omori" (extra noodles) and together with the rice it's about the right size to fill me up.

If you're extra-hungry, it's all good though: Fried rice, or  garlicky gyoza, or fresh-tasting deep-fried chicken, or even ramen with the broth!

I like the atmosphere, too. It feels like it could be a little noodle shop tucked away in a big town. There's counter space in front of the TV, but there's also table-space and you can see into the kitchen.

By the way, if Nabura leaves you hungry for more ramen, at lunch time you can find ramen down the street at Jijiya, a local staple, or up the hill at Koshiba--but be forwarned: Koshiba is favorited by the locals and once they run out of broth, that's it for the day!

Location: Anbo 140 (In the heart of Anbo.)
Hours: 11:30am-14:00pm, 6:30pm-9:30pm, closed on Sundays.*
Website: https://www.facebook.com/屋久島ラーメン-Nabura-1620380304955160/*Of course, hours are subject to change!

Friday, October 14, 2016

Ki no Mi -- Order the mushroom pizza!

For years, now, I'd been hearing about "the best pizza on the island" located somewhere "on the way to Sankara," but the only eatery I could think of in the area was an unpretentious cafe, and it seemed to be closed rather often. So when a bunch of friends called to say they were going to go check out this pizza place, I jumped aboard.

The full name of Ki no Mi is "Ki no Mi: Stone-Oven Bread Factory" (Ki no Mi meaning Fruit of the Tree), and, yes, they have good bread. In fact (at the time of writing), a couple times a week the Pukori Don shop just south of the airport features a selection of Ki no Mi breads.

However, we didn't go there for the bread. We didn't go there for the relaxed atmosphere with a view of the ocean. We went for the pizza. We ordered several and were quite happy with the thin, crispy crust covered in sauce and cheese. But we were overcome with unanimous taste-bud happiness when we reached the mushroom pizza.

Get the mushroom pizza, or two of them. That's all you need to know.

(I should probably mention though, that Ki no Mi is up in the hills, quite a distance from the main road. If you can't get there and you are craving pizza, Il Mare, which is just next to the airport, is an Italian eatery with a variety of wonderful pizzas which I hope to post about soon!)

Ki no Mi(樹の実)
Location: Mugio 335-75. On the windy road that leads to both Sankara and Senpiro Waterfall.
Hours: 10:00am to 6:00pm on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays ONLY.*

*Of course, hours are subject to change!