Pyua Shokudou

A restaurant run by the developmentally challenged

By Michael Flemming    - 3 min read

The barren strip of Route 224 in northern Okinawa City near the Okinawa Expressway Exit #5 is slowly filling up with residential mid-rises and small- to medium-sized businesses. I had been hoping for a good restaurant to open up, maybe even a Joyfull or a Gusto or a Bikkuri Donkey, really any kind of a good family eatery.

Our hopes were not dashed. A simple but architecturally interesting and somewhat large two story yellow-orange building finally revealed itself to have a restaurant on the first floor, the Pyua Shokudou. Actually the whole building is Pyua, a business that trains and employs the developmentally challenged. The restaurant shares the first floor with the Pyua Bento shop; a business and training center in on the upper floor.

Nearly all of the employees and all of the tasks at Pyua are performed by adults with developmental disabilities. These workers cook, serve, clean, and manage the facility. I may not have noticed this had my wife - a native Japanese speaker - not explained that Pyua's mission is providing meaningful life enrichment to the handicapped. During my visit all of the employees were very warm, professional and capable. Any sign that they were less that fully functional was much less than subtle to me.

We felt very good to be patronizing this great cause, but the meal we enjoyed alone was well worth the trip. We ordered two items off of the adult set menu for 650 yen and 550 yen each, and two items off of the kids set menu for 350 yen each. My wife's "C set" came with a generous portion of rice, a large pork cutlet, a fried egg, soup, salad, spaghetti, and sausage. My "B set" came with all of the items on the "C set" but added hamburger. Our kids entrees included rice, egg, hamburger, salad, sausage, a fried potato, soup and a cookie - and a choice of soda. We also enjoyed complimentary wheat tea and water. Our entire bill came to 1.900 yen.

We plan to visit Pyua often as we attend church service next door every Saturday night or Sunday morning. The food is very delicious at a great price and served in large portions compared to most shokudous. The absolute best thing about our visit was that the professional, attentive and gracious service at Pyua is far better than we experience at the vast majority of restaurants in Okinawa.

Pyua is located in a brand new building on the western most portion of the Route 224 Gushikawa loop; from the Okinawa Kita exit of the Okinawa Expressway on Route 329 go east on Route 36 for nearly one kilometer then turn south onto Route 224, Pyua is on the left just past Koza Baptist Church. Pyua is open 11:00 ~ 20:00 everyday except Mondays.

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Michael Flemming

Michael Flemming @michael.flemming

I'm a wandererer in Okinawa turning over every stone I can find. I write, photograph, and blog about my favorite finds here in Japan's southernmost prefecture. Find more of my rants and finding on my travel blog.

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