Hachijojima, the volcanic island 500 km south of Tokyo, is a tropical paradise easily reached by plane or for leisurely travelers, by a 10-hour overnight ferry ride. The island’s attractions are all nearby, making it a fun drive by rental car, or a cycling adventure. You’ll work up an appetite from your exploration, and Hachijojima’s izakayas, cafés and dining halls at lodging feature fresh-caught seafood and local produce.
A favorite café restaurant not far from Sokodo Port on the east side of the island is Coco Moon, a casual restaurant that serves meals for all appetites featuring imaginative dishes using local ingredients. This small Italian restaurant in what looks like a summer home surrounded by a garden is a Hachijojima favorite. Don’t be shy about approaching this restaurant located in a residential street. You’ll know you’re there when you see the signboard and the delightful stone marker.
The dining area seats 20 guests and looks onto a garden behind the house. At the tables, you’ll find pictorial menus, and the servers can help you out in English if you’re not fluent in Japanese. Lunch and dinner at Coco Moon present creative, delicious dishes that showcase ashitaba, a leafy green that is widely grown in the Izu Islands. Ashitaba lends a sharp and bitter flavor reminiscent of parsley, to which it is related. A signature dish here is ashitaba Genovese, served in a conical heap that recalls Hachijofuji, the volcanic peak that dominates the island.
On my most recent visit, I had ashitaba tantanmen, a Japanese interpretation of Chinese dan dan noodles. The combination of nutty sesame, milky soy broth, ashitaba, and noodles is satisfying. Also on the menu is classic thin crust pizza, and lunch sets with typical Japanese shokudo diner favorites. For lighter appetites, you can also relax and have a slice of chiffon cake or a fruity drink.
Coco Moon is open for lunch from 11:30 a.m. and opens again for dinner from 6 p.m. until late.