Okinawan Fare In The SpotlightA La Carte Columns
July 10, 2016
Story By: Caitlin Basilio | Photos by: Anthony Consillio
If you’re in the mood for a feel-good dining experience the whole family will enjoy, look no further than Uptown Café. The eatery is owned and operated by three generations of the Toya family, who take pride in serving a variety of Okinawan, Japanese and American foods.
Owner Helene Toya opened Uptown Cafe 18 years ago and has since managed the eatery with her mother and daughter. Toya’s daughter Jaclyn is also expecting, so Uptown Cafe will soon be home to four generations.
The family’s camaraderie is apparent at Uptown Cafe, and although the restaurant serves a plethora of local comfort foods, it is most known for its authentic Okinawan cuisine.
Pork Eggplant ($12.50), for example, is flavored with oyster sauce and shoyu. “Okinawans like to use a lot of pork and vegetables like bitter melon and eggplant,” explains Toya.
A great time to stop into Uptown Cafe is during happy hour, Monday-Friday from 2 to 6 p.m. The eatery also offers karaoke.
PIG OUT ON SHOYU PORK
According to owner Helene Toya, most customers come back for Uptown Cafe’s Shoyu Pork. For $13.95, you can get a mouthful of pork flavored with shoyu, miso and a little bit of salt. This traditional Okinawan dish is boiled and is served with rice and a choice of salad, macaroni salad or soup. Patrons especially love the pork because it’s juicy, soft and tender, and has a ton of flavor!
1333 River St., Chinatown
Monday-Friday, 11 a.m.-midnight; Saturday, 7 a.m.-midnight; closed Sundays