Cafe offers unique Okinawan cuisine
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BY ELLISE KAKAZU
Have you ever stepped into a restaurant and immediately felt at home? Well, you may experience that feeling when you visit Uptown Cafe.
The eatery gives diners a chance to unwind, relax and enjoy a good meal in a comfortable environment, which is why some guests have been visiting for years.
Uptown Cafe’s menu offers a variety of Japanese, Okinawan and American favorites, but the Okinawan dishes in particular are a must. Owner Helene Toya, who was born in Okinawa, notes that Uptown Cafe is one of the few restaurants on the island that serves authentic Okinawan food.
A native dish visitors should experience is Pork Bitter Melon ($12.50), also known as Goya champuru. It’s a healthy option that highlights one of the Okinawans’ secrets to a healthy, long life: bitter melon. Along with the bright green vegetable, diners can expect to dig into a mixture of egg, tofu and pork (guests can swap pork for either chicken or Spam). A bowl of miso soup and a choice of either macaroni or tossed salad is served on the side.
Oxtail Soup ($16) is a customer favorite that’s inspired by Toya’s uncle’s recipe. The dish consists of oxtail, homemade broth, cabbage, Chinese parsley and fresh ginger.
“The soup is clear and the meat is tender,” Toya said. “And it’s tasty.”
Another stand out is Tripe Stew ($12.95). The stew is a combination of tripe, carrots, bell peppers, tomato sauce and seasoning. It also comes with a bowl of miso soup and a choice of either macaroni or tossed salad.
Besides home-style cooking, Uptown Cafe also offers karaoke and a daily happy-hour menu (2-6 p.m.), which features 10 percent off pupus and $1 off drinks.
All in all, Uptown Cafe has something for everyone and is the perfect spot to catch up with friends.
1333 River St., Chinatown
Monday-Friday, 11 a.m.-2 a.m.; Saturday, 7 a.m.-2 a.m.; closed Sundays