Connecting the foreign community in Okinawa

“Niceness” Vegan Cafe in Nago City

Niceness Cafe in Nago is a best-in-class vegan cafe with a relaxing, rustic atmosphere that serves delicious food and satisfying portions.

One of the coolest things about Okinawa is the number of really awesome cafes you can discover hiding in the cities, towns and villages all over the island. Some of them cater to tourists, but the very best places aim to serve the locals and have a regular clientele. In fact, most of the really good cafes are well hidden, tucked away in the labyrinthine web of urban alleys and backstreets, or sometimes at the end of long, winding gravel roads that snake their way through the mountains in Onna, Motobu or Kunigami.

My wife and I love these cafes. Truly, they are one of the reasons we continue to enjoy living in Okinawa so much, and we make a point of supporting the establishments we like best. We also like to seek out new and interesting places with unique offerings and a relaxing atmosphere. One place we found is called Niceness, located in the heart of Nago city.

Nago City is considered the gateway to the northern part of Okinawa. It is home to a lot of interesting shops, bakeries and restaurants, but Niceness is in a class all it’s own. Everything they serve is made from scratch and some of the vegetables and herbs they prepare is from their very own garden. They even have a paddy further north on which they grow the rice with which they make their delicious gluten-free bread. The owner even told me that she and her partner go foraging in the mountains for a certain type of fungus that functions as a natural yeast they use to leaven the bread. That’s some kind of dedication!

A deeply Satisfying Lunch

Some people go looking for vegan cafes and some avoid them. Vegans on the island very likely know about Niceness already, since word travels fast through the vegan community. However, non-vegans might not try Niceness out of concern that vegan meals in general are seldom filling enough to be worthwhile.

Niceness is different. Even though I’m not a vegan, I felt deeply satisfied by the lunch set I ordered. I can’t say the same about every vegan restaurant I’ve been to on this island. The bread was soft and delicious, the chickpea salad was a creamy delight and the small patty that was the main course was so rich and tasty I honestly can’t imagine how meat would have improved it. Coming from an unrepentant carnivore, that says a lot.

The atmosphere of the place was refreshing and all-natural. It is gently rustic without giving a sense of being run-down. Located on a fairly quiet backstreet, it has a feeling of being tucked away, although it’s really in the middle of the city. The opera music that played quietly in the background was a nice touch and it was pleasant to watch the owner’s cats prowl silently around the tables. People who don’t like cats will be assured that they were polite enough not to beg).

There is one downside to eating at Niceness and that is that you can’t expect to be served in English. On the other hand, the owners are very welcoming to tourists and foreign residents like me and will help you to the best of their ability. Also, if you decide to go, get there early. Like a lot of smaller cafes, they only make so much food and they sell out quickly. Be sure to check their website for hours and days open. I don’t think they take reservations.

This review is unsolicited.

Niceness Vegan Cafe

1635-1 Umusa, Nago, Okinawa 905-0006
Niceness Cafe Website

Share

Awesome Places in Okinawa
Paul Sean Grieve

Aha Dam Kohan Park

Aha Dam (and Kouhan Park) in Kunigami is a little-known spot that offers world-class views of jungle covered mountains.

Read More »
Awesome Places in Okinawa
Paul Sean Grieve

Todoroki Falls in Nago, Okinawa

One of the most visited waterfalls on the Okinawa main island, Torodoki Falls an the park around it make for an easy refreshing getaway.

Read More »