The best of anything can often be found in the most unlikely locations. Many people arriving at Miyazaki Airport might therefore jump on a train and head into the city in order to check into their hotel before going out to see the sites. Many might venture southwest toward the recently active volcano, Shinmoedake, on the border with Kagoshima prefecture, or--if they are surfers and beach lovers--south to Aoshima and the Nichinan coast , which includes the quaint castle own of Obi. Wherever you go in Miyazaki prefecture you can find delicious local food, while in the city itself some decent international food is available as well. However, few would expect to find a cozy and delicious Indian restaurant in the otherwise nondescript Hongo area, which is only a 5-minute drive from the airport, about halfway between Minami Miyazaki station and Aoshima, an area which boasts very little of interest to the tourist. Indeed, if I didn't live nearby, I would never have found it myself.
Cattle Island, named for Mr. and Mrs. Ushijima, a young couple who have lived in India, is a real find, well worth going out of the way for despite the fact that the nearest bus stop and train station each see fewer than one bus or train an hour. The food is better than that of any other South Asian restaurant I have tried in Miyazaki, and so perhaps the best way to get there is by taxi from the airport, Aoshima or the city itself. In fact, perhaps the best time to visit is upon arrival, or just prior to departure, if you are flying in or out.
What sets Cattle Island apart from other Indian restaurants is their abundant use of fresh vegetables and spices without being in the slightest heavy or oily. Some might claim that the use of Japanese red rice, or a few other ingredients that reflect the macrobiotic leanings of the owners, makes this restaurant less than authentic, but they would be wrong to give this place a miss on that account Similarly, the presence of a few Jamaican items such as Jerk Chicken on the menu might be too eclectic for some tastes, but the owners are serious about their food and a visit there should be a priority if you like South Asian food.
On a recent visit there, we enjoyed a leisurely dinner set menu that included the curry of the week, a delectable mixed bean dish with lots of tomato, cumin and other spices and a second curry of our choice, which happened to be chicken keema (minced chicken curry). Both rice and whole wheat chapati bread accompanied our meal, which also included freshly prepared salad, pickles and soup. We even indulged and ordered vanilla ice cream with a unique but totally satisfying cumin sauce. A variety of alcohols are available, and you can even bring your own wine.
Cattle Island, as noted, is close to the airport and shares an enormous parking lot with the "A Co-op" supermarket and a few other shops. Just give the taxi driver the address, which is likely to be familiar to many drivers of the Miyakoh and Heiwa taxi companies, who tend to use the parking lot as a base while waiting for customers:
Hongo Minamikata 4141, Miyazaki city
Open from noon until around 9 PM most days, Cattle Island is only open for lunch until 3 PM on Tuesdays and closed Wednesdays.
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I first came to Japan in 1979, where I have taught mainly at the secondary and tertiary levels. In early 2012, my wife (a native of Miyazaki) and I decided to move from Tokyo to Miyazaki city with our 3 cats. In addition to my work with Japan Tourist, I teach English to senior citizens and nurses, write and perform folk music ,and volunteer with homeless and disability support groups. I am currently working on a project with organic farmers in the town of Aya to invite kids from Fukushima to participate in summer camps. As if that were not enough, we are planning on opening up an organic cafe/wine bar that will feature products made by local people with disabilities. I hope that I can help many of you discover the warmth of the people in Miyazaki and southern Kyushu.