山の茶屋 Yama-no-chaya means “mountain tea house.”
Located in Nanjo (南城市), the southern area of Okinawa, this charming restaurant is quite popular and offers beautiful views, delicious food, and a garden walk. It is very popular, so it is important to show up early. It has a sister restaurant called Hamabe-no-chaya 浜辺の茶屋 (meaning “teahouse by the beach”), a few meters down the way located on the beach front and offering a more casual menu. Hamabe-no-chaya also has nice view overlooking the ocean, but I much prefer the food at Yama-no-chaya.
From the parking lot, you will see some walking sticks at the base of the stairs; feel free to use these, although the “climb” is not difficult, it may make it easier for elders or fun for children. When you get to the restaurant, they will present you with an English menu if you do not look Japanese. Try to get one of the window seats on the top floor if possible, although the entire inside is gorgeous.
We order a wood-fired pizza, salad, and the Sachibaru set meal, which is a vegetarian teishoku: it usually comes as miso/asa/tofu soup, tenpura, purple rice, pickles, umibudou, fruit, jimami tofu, konbu/konnyaku side dish, some kind of leafy green and peanut sauce, and sweetened barley. It may change a bit depending on the season, but the set meal is really so amazing. A must-try.
Sachibaru-no-niwa さちばるの庭 is the name of the gardens on the premise, and if you eat there you can enter the gardens for free. It is a very pleasant area to walk after lunch, however be sure to utilize their free bug spray during summer months.
Not only this, but it is reasonably priced! For the two of us it ends up to by ~3000円 since we do not hold back, but overall the quality is well worth this price.
I can never understand why gaikokujin insist on going to the low-quality and overly touristy restaurant in the area (I will not comment the name, but ask any gaijin about “food with a view in southern Okinawa” and they will probably mention something about “thai in the sky,” a place I highly do not recommend!) when such a wonderful place like Yama-no-chaya exists!
Address: 〒901-0604 沖縄県南城市玉城字玉城2-1
BONUS: Hamabe-no-chaya pictures. This place shares the same parking lot as its sister restaurant, so just copy & paste the same address into google maps. You can sit inside or outside, or even on the rooftop tables. Here you will be closer to the beach.