Tucked away in one of Beppu’s many tiny streets is a small camp-themed restaurant that serves comfort camping food. Chef and owner, Showta Hirose, came up with the concept for the restaurant because of his passion for the outdoors.
It was a Tuesday afternoon, and I had spent the morning visiting various onsens (hot spring baths) around downtown Beppu, one of Japan’s most popular onsen towns. I had seen photos of Camp Cafe on Instagram and thought that the concept of the restaurant was pretty cool. I was in town, some 4300 miles (6900 km) from my home in Hawaii, and so why not pay Camp Cafe a visit? I wandered for a bit, and even got a little lost, but eventually I found the place.
Like the sign says, at Camp Cafe, you can eat, drink, and then hop in a tent and cook some s’mores. Yes, they’ve pitched a tent on the second floor.
I popped my head into the cafe and asked the person behind the counter, “Konichiwa, Camp Cafe?” Showta, replied, “hai” and then pointed me to one of the tables. He brought over an English menu for me to look at. It’s always a relief when there’s a menu that I can read. He then asked, to my surprise, are you from “exploration hawaii website?” I was floored. I responded, “Yes! yes, I am!”
I asked Showta which item on the menu he recommended and he said that the Napolitan was the most popular. The Napolitan it was. I talked with Showta for a few moments and then asked if it was okay to look around. He said, “of course, please.”
The cafe is very narrow, but it does have an upstairs section. To get up there, you need to do a mini-hike up the very slim, and nearly vertical stairway. I can’t imagine carrying plates up these stairs!
The first thing that I noticed was the full-sized tent that was pitched upstairs. Neat!
Tiny animal figures….because cafe camping.
Showta has many camping artifacts scattered throughout the cafe. Of course, he also loves to go camping. I asked him where his favorite camping spot was and he said “Lake Shidaka. I love to ride my motorcycle and camp there.”
I headed back downstairs. The cooking space is compact, but incredible.
My lunch set came with a choice of drink. I chose the kabosu, which had a citrus taste, almost like a lime.
Showta working the stove. I asked him a few questions about the restaurant and eventually came to the conclusion that it was similar to the “pop-up” concepts that we see here in the states. The space is known as Punto Precog, and I guess different entrepreneurs test out their ideas here.
A salad to go with the lunch set. Under my little Herschel pen pouch is a small onsen booklet sold in Beppu (500 yen). It’s very useful since it lists all of the onsen in Beppu and also offers free admissions to some. There are hundreds of onsens spread throughout Beppu.
Showta’s popular Napolitan, a pasta dish topped with an egg fried to perfection. It was delicious, or, oishi! I asked him if he cooks this kind of food when he goes camping, and he simply said “yes.”
I must say that I was very happy to have found Camp Cafe Mumumu. The atmosphere was cool, the food was delicious, and the conversations that I had with Showta was fascinating. Before leaving, I was able to get a photo with Chef Showta.
For those of you who wish to visit Camp Cafe Mumumu, here’s a map: