Just a skip and a jump from Shuri Castle, Vegie Cafe Shanti serves up mouthwatering vegetarian Nepalese food in a friendly, informal storefront.
The small pretty shop, which seats about 10, has a gleaming wooden interior with a couple of small tables and a few counter seats made from solid pine coated with non-polluting vegetable wax. The owner takes care to use locally grown vegetables, but imports the more than 20 spices used at the restaurant directly from a generations-old spice family in Nepal.
Beautifully plated lunch specials run about 1000 yen, and include salad and a drink. Try the curry special or the taco rice, piled high with fresh, crunchy julienned vegetables. The house rice is infused with cashews, raisins, and ghee, but white rice is also available and those with dairy allergies or special dietary needs should ask, and accommodations can be made. An English menu is available, and some of the staff speaks English as well.
The drink menu offers organic beer, wine, and coffee, as well as chai, juice, and lassis. Dessert selections include goat milk ice cream (locally sourced from Gushiken Farm in Nago City) with roasted soy powder, or the island favorite shaved ice with brown sugar.
In an effort to create a healthy and clean environment with a focus on "heart and body" (kokoro to karada), water is purified to remove toxins but leave more than 140 beneficial minerals. The shop uses high-grade canola and safflower vegetable oils, and an air purifier is used to remove dust and allergens from the interior.
The corner of the shop is stocked with small handicrafts made by members of the owner's family. Some of the items are chopsticks made from rosewood and cherry, and woven goods such as shawls, coasters, and table runners, made from repurposed materials.
Just three minutes down the street, a sister shop called "Prema" sells sundries from the Himalaya region of Tibet, Nepal, and India. Both shops are a short walk from Shuri monorail station. This is a great place to stop for lunch while on an outing to the castle.