During the time I’ve spent working at a tourism information desk here, I have come across various travelers in search of restaurants that offer vegetarian meal options. Although it may not seem like there will be many places, Amami being an island and all, but there are more restaurants than expected!
Unfortunately, due to the history and culture of Amami, there are not many local dishes that can be considered vegetarian. Amami islanders grew up hunting local wild boar, fishing in the sea and creating soup from chicken broth for sustenance, so dishes that are unique to Amami that are also vegetarian are generally limited to seafood (if your dietary preference permits fish) or other vegetables. This article will introduce a few vegetarian Amami dishes for your reference!
Let’s start with the restaurants in the northern region of Amami.
Home-made tofu is the star of the show at Shima Tofu-ya, which is found in Tatsugo just minutes from the BIG II superstore. Their tofu is enriched with the naturally clear ocean water of Amami, creating a firm tofu high in minerals and nutrients.
Many of the items and side dishes on the menu only use tofu, but sometimes a kind of meat may be incorporated, so please ask a server for assistance if you have any questions about the ingredients.
They also have other variations of tofu such as tofu skins and peanut tofu, and they have home-made ‘miki,’ a sweet rice drink that is well known on Amami.
Shima Tofu-ya is about a 40-minute drive from Amami Airport, and a 20-minute drive from the center of Naze. It is also about a 15-20 minute walk from the “Nakagachi shuraku iriguchi (中勝集落入口) bus stop.
Hours: 11:00 am – 8:00 pm (last order)
Osteria Fiore brings local flavor and Italian cuisine together and creates dishes that delight both local islanders and visitors alike. This family-friendly restaurant uses fresh local ingredients and home-made flavoring, making their food stand out among the rest.
Lunch sets made with seasonal ingredients are particularly popular, and they can prepare a menu for an all-you-can-drink plan if you reserve it in advance.
Osteria Fiore is next to a Family Mart convenience store in Tatsugo and has plenty of parking available. It is about a 30-minute drive from Naze, as well as about a 25 minute drive from the Amami Airport.
Lunch: 11:30am – 4:00pm (Last order 3:00), Dinner: 6:00pm – 10:00 (Last order 9:00), Closed Tuesdays
Seeing as Naze is the most densely populated area on Amami, it also has the most restaurants. Here they are!
Locally famous curry restaurant Noa Noa makes their curry in both the Indian-style as well as English style, which is somewhat rare in Japan, where they’ve created their own flavor of curry. Don’t worry Japanese-stlye curry lovers, there is that option here too!
Unlike many other restaurants on Amami, Noa Noa has quite a variety on their menu, including vegetable-only options as well. You can also alter the spice level, which ranges from 1 to 5, with 1 being the lowest.
Noa Noa is in the Wako-cho neighborhood of Naze, which is a bit far from most accommodations, but taxis are easily waved down, and there is a parking lot for customers who drive there.
Hours: 11:00 am to 9:00 pm, except on Wednesdays they close at 3:00. Closed Thursdays.
Tucked away in the drinking street of Naze, Muchakana is the quintessential Amami-style izakaya, or pub. I always bring first-time visitors to Amami here; something about the combination of island cuisine, shima-uta folksongs playing in the background, and sitting in front of massive rows of Amami brown sugar Shochu just makes you truly feel like you’re on a small island in the south of Japan.
I recommend trying these famous Amami island dishes here, but you can probably find them at other izakaya in the vicinity as well.
This “mozuku tempura,” a lightly fried variation of seaweed.
On the left is “shima rakkyo tempura,” a kind of local scallion, and on the right is “aosa tempura,” a lightly fried sea lettuce variety.
Another variation of “aosa tempura.”
Who doesn’t love tempura-fried veggies, right?
Hours: 5:30 pm to 12:00 am
*Accepts card, allows smoking*
Café 5 seeds
Cozy ‘Café 5 seeds’ opened up in November, 2018 and answered the call for vegan—not vegetarian— options that both Amami islanders and visitors have been desiring. The owner bakes tasty vegan cookies and treats, as well as serves croissant sandwiches (that are not currently vegan, but will become so in the future). I personally recommend the cocoa cookies!
Since the café opened fairly recently, the menu is also subject to slight changes, but the owner is dedicated to providing delicious and reasonably priced food for vegan customers. She also speaks English!
It is located inside a retro indoor shopping street called ‘Nagatabashi Ichiba,’ which is just behind AiAi Hiroba in Naze.
Hours: 11:00 am – 5:30 pm, Closed Thursdays & Sundays
Durga Dining Amami
Nepalese curry restaurant Durga Dining is Naze’s newest curry shop, and quickly became popular with the islanders. Their extensive menu offers something for everyone, including both vegetable-based and meat-based curries, authentic Indian side dish favorites like samosa and pakora, and of course varieties of naan! They even incorporate local vegetables and other ingredients, creating a truly unique dining experience.
Some of their lunch and dinner sets include two types of curry of your choice, as well as a side salad and a drink, making it possible to try many different flavors. Customers can also choose how spicy they would prefer their curry to be, or put home-made spicy sauce in on their own.
Durga Dining is in the center of Naze, right across the street from the Naze Post Office.
Lunch: 11:00 am – 3:00 pm, Dinner: 5:00 pm – 11:00 pm
Now for the restaurants south of Naze:
Tsumugi-an is a Japanese-style restaurant found just past the mangrove forest in Sumiyo, Amami City while heading south on prefectural road 58. It is one of the few well-known soba and udon noodle restaurants, and they are popular for incorporating Amami vegetables and ingredients into their cuisine.
The udon and soba dishes have vegetarian options, and while they also have ‘donburi’ rice bowls, those mostly have meat. They also make the soba noodles on-site, enabling the Amami flavor to shine through this traditional Japanese dish.
They are only open during lunch, however, and seating is slightly limited.
Hours: 11:00 am – 3:30 pm (Last order 3:00)
The cuisine artfully crafted by the Napoli-trained chef at this pizza & pasta izakaya in Sesui, Setouchi-cho is unrivaled on Amami. The combination of authentic flavors and locally grown ingredients create incredible dishes that make great memories.
This izakaya is right on the seaside facing south towards Kakeroma Island, forming a relaxing yet elegant atmosphere to be enjoyed both during lunch as well as at nighttime. There are also tables outside on the terrace for those who just can’t get enough of the Amami sun!
Hours: 11:30 am – 2:00pm, 6:00 pm – 11:00 pm (Last order 10:30), Closed Mondays
Nomad curry is a small shop in Naze, and they offer delicious spice-curry from all organic ingredients as well as tasty drinks that you can take out for on-the-go travelers. Unfortunately, nothing on the regular menu is vegetarian, but if you call or message them on Instagram in advance then they can prepare a tasty vegetable curry. They were also featured in another article about spots that have wifi!
Hours: 11:00 am – 9:00 pm (Close at 6:00 pm on Sundays), While supplies last
All of these restaurants are great options, and hopefully in the future more restaurants will have vegetarian options as well.
Stop by the Tourism Information Desk inside AiAi Hiroba or at the Amami Airport if you have any more questions during your trip!
Rosemary WhiteRosemary Whiteさんが書いた他の記事を見る
Born and raised in New Mexico, U.S.A, I have worked as a Coordinator for International Relations for Amami City as of August, 2018. I translate materials such as Amamikke articles as well as write my own, and I run the Amami Island Info facebook, insta and twitter accounts. Amami foodie and tour guide in the making. アメリカのニューメキシコ州生まれ育ち、2018の8月から奄美市の国際交流員(CIR)として奄美大島に来島。観光パンフレットやあまみっけの記事の翻訳、SNS情報発信。自然探検、美食家。