Have you ever been hungry? The kind of hunger that makes you angry even when there’s really no reason to be mad? There’s levels to hunger, I feel. Slight hunger, bothersome hunger, painful hunger, moderate temper tantrum hunger, and then the ready to murder end-stage hunger where you start contemplating driving into oncoming traffic because, well, WHERE IS THE VEGAN FOOD?!
That was my husband and I the other day. See, my husband is now vegan as well (thanks, Gary Yourofsky!), so now we are always on the search for new stuff. New vegetables to try, new recipes to concoct, new puns about vegetables to send to each other via text message, and (our favorite) new restaurants. It’s an adventure. And adventures are cool, especially when you’re in a foreign country. But end-stage hunger makes everything suck, even adventures. At least until the food finally offers relief, that is.
I honestly felt that when the food at Suien came to our table all of our journey was 100% worth it. The hunger, the frustration of iMaps not working, the failure to eat at three other restaurants… All of it was worth it once I saw the food in front of me. I think I thanked our waitress at least ten times in a row. In a word, I was giddy.
First of all, let me tell you what little I know about the place. This cozy, lovely little place is down a narrow street at the very end, tucked into a corner right across from a small spring. It’s a very beautiful area, a quiet neighborhood. In the back of Suien is a small horse (maybe a mule, actually, but I don’t speak Japanese so I’ll never know for sure) who lives there. You park about a block away, head out of the parking lot and follow a sign next to a big vegetable garden down the road to Suien.
Bakery Suien is in the Yomitan/Zakimi area of okinawa, near Zakimi castle. It’s in what I assume is a renovated house, which is gorgeous. Inside everything is made of wood, it’s very rustic and breezy and earthy. It’s got a slight cathedral ceiling going on made of wood, which reminded me of a church I used to attend. I wanted to move in and sleep on a cot in the back. There were three lovely women working up in front, and a man working in the back making bread. Up front they have many home made baked goods for sale such as breads, cookies, etc. They also sell jars of orange honey.
I had been here once before, but I’d only picked up some bread for my husband and then left. Kiwa, the owner of dechibica, told me about Suien. She said they make excellent lunch and are willing to make it without cheese for vegans.
They were more than willing. They were spectacularly kind and generous. We walked in and say down at a table next to an open window. It was so gorgeous outside, I would’ve been happy to just sit there for hours.
One of the lovely workers brought us menus and asked if we read Japanese, which we do not. She explained that they have two food options- a veggie plate and a sandwich plate. They also have an excellent drink menu with cocoa, tea, coffee, and a lemon drink. They have both milk and soymilk available. We both ordered the sandwich plate, and I ordered an ice cocoa.
The cocoa was excellent. It came with a small cookie that was made of sugarcane and coconut, which my husband devoured and said was delicious.
They brought us each a bowl of carrot soup. If you know me you know I don’t particularly love raw carrots. But this was no mere carrot soup. This was a bowl of earthy, savory carrot soup that made me want to put on some swim clothes and do laps in the bowl. It was divine.
Then they brought us our sandwich plates. And let me tell you, I was not expecting this enormous amount of food. But that’s what they brought us. A HUGE plate of my favorite things- vegetables. Vegetables galore. A beautiful sandwich made with fresh, home made bread. Roasted red peppers, avocado, carrots, and more smashed between the softest bread I’ve ever eaten. The plate also had a salad with some incredible dressing that I couldn’t duplicate if my life depended on it. And the tofu- don’t even get me started on how delicious that tofu was. It had dill, citrus, and some other flavors that turned it into tofu cheese that melted in your mouth like Earth Balance butter on a hot day.
We had planned to pick up some baked goods on the way out, but we were so stuffed at the end of the meal that we totally forgot. All the more reason to go back again, am I right?
Bakery Suien info-
Hours: Thursday – Sunday 10:30-5:00
Address: 読谷村字座喜味367 (Yomitan Zakimi)
Phone number: 098-958-3239
I hope you’ll check the place out if you live in/visit okinawa. And I hope you’ll enjoy the place half as much as I did. I am eternally grateful for the kindness of the staff and their delicious food. As I always am, here on this amazing island.
Thanks for reading!
Your friend, Rachel