If you love Japanese food and have already explored Tokyo or Osaka, then you might want to mix things up and check out Okinawa for a change. Not only are the Okinawan Islands a lot more laidback compared to these bustling cities, but they are also a true foodie hot spot.
In our opinion, food is a huge part of the travel experience. So, if you do decide to travel to Okinawa, make sure to treat your taste buds to some of the local flavours. We know it can be tough to know where to start when it comes to trying new foods in a different location. That’s why we are here to help with our guide on the best food in Okinawa, a list of the most delicious things you need to eat in the Prefecture and where to find them.
The diverse specialties in Okinawa are sure to surprise and delight you.
Thanks to its complex history and remote location from the mainland, Okinawan cuisine is truly one-of-a-kind foodie destination. With influences from China, Korea, Southeast Asia, and even the USA, you’ll find a mix of flavors that you won’t find anywhere else in Japan.
For centuries, Okinawa has nurtured and maintained its own unique food culture, dating back to the era of the Ryukyu Dynasty.
And this rich food culture means that it is home to an abundance of restaurants, izakayas, and sweets shops where you can sample a variety of dishes made from the freshest tropical ingredients produced from the fertile grounds of Okinawa and the emerald ocean that surrounds them.
It would be a shame to miss out on all the delicious local flavors by only eating at hotel restaurants, so make sure to try some of the dishes listed below. We are confident that you will be amazed by the tantalizing tastes of Okinawa’s cuisine.
Wondering what dishes to try first? And where the best spots are to savor them? Don’t worry, we have got you covered! Let’s dive in and discover all the delicious food that Okinawa has to offer.
Please note that for a complete and comprehensive experience of Okinawa’s food culture, including both its popular restaurants and lesser-known gems, it’s advisable to rent a car to explore the island.
Furthermore this guide to to what to eat in Okinawa compliments our post about on the best time to go to Okinawa, the best places to stay in Okinawa, the best things to do in Okinawa and our full one week Okinawa Itinerary.
PORK IN ALL IT’S FORMS
In Okinawa, dishes are often made using locally sourced ingredients that are unique to the region.
For instance, there is a breed of pork that can only be found in Okinawa – the Agu pork.
And most Okinawans have a clear preference for pork over beef. In fact, it’s a staple ingredient in Okinawan cooking and Okinawan cuisine is known for its love of pork.
There is even an Okinawan saying that “you can eat every part of the pig except the oink.” So here are some of the most famous and delicious Okinawan pork dishes:
Some must-try Okinawan pork-based dishes include rafute (a stew made with pork belly in a blend of sweet and salty flavors), and tebichi (a rich and flavorful braised pig’s leg rich in collagen). You can find more information on these dishes below:
Following World War II, Spam, the well-known tinned pork brand from the U.S., became a staple food source for the islanders of Okinawa. And it remains popular to this day, being used in a wide variety of Okinawan dishes.
One of the most common breakfast options for residents in Okinawa is the Spam Onigiri / sushi sandwich. This delightful breakfast dish consists of rice wrapped in nori seaweed and filled with fried egg or an omelette, Spam, and tomato ketchup. Sometimes this is topped with fried bitter gourd. And would you believe it. This unusual combination makes a surprisingly delicious meal.
Okinawa Musubi is another local favourite. It’s a rice ball filled with fried egg and Spam.
Onigiri, a snack commonly enjoyed throughout Japan, takes on a unique form in Okinawa with the
If you wish to buy some spam as a souvenir, then head to the Aeon supermarket in the American Village, where you can find a variety of different Spam flavours.
WHERE TO EAT SPAM ONIGIRI
PORK TAMAGO ONIGIRI HONTEN
Pork Tamago Onigiri Honten is a popular eatery located near Makishi Market. The owners have elevated the classic spam onigiri by giving it a gourmet twist. There are a variety of different combinations available, all featuring the base of Spam, egg, rice and onigiri. The spam onigiris are of a substantial size with a generous filling.
There is seating available across from the restaurant, but you can also opt for takeout and enjoy your meal while strolling through the Makishi Market.
Each onigiri is made to order. This does mean that wait times can be long when the restaurant is busy. It can be unpredictable when the crowds will be there, but visiting early, before 9:00 a.m., might help avoid the wait.
On our visit, we tried the fried fish tartar and pickled Okinawa shallot (400 yen) and was blown away by its deliciousness.
ADDRESS: 2-8-35 Matsuo, Naha 900-0014 Okinawa Prefecture
OPENING HOURS: (Daily) 07.00-17.30
WEBSITE (JAPANESE): http://porktamago.com/
RAFUTE (PORK BELLY)
Rafute is a traditional Okinawan dish, made by slowly simmering pork belly in a blend of bonito stock, soy sauce, brown sugar, and Okinawan distilled liquor called awamori. In contrast to Okinawa’s braised pork belly, which is typically prepared by removing the skin before cooking, rafute is cooked with the skin left on, which enhances the dish’s taste and texture.
The slow cooked meat is incredibly tender and flavorful, with a rich, sweet, and slightly spicy taste. The dish is typically served with a bit of sauce and radish.
Rafute is highly versatile and pairs well with rice or soba noodles. Some restaurants serve it as a topping for rice bowls or in as a Chinese-style fried rice. Sometimes it is also served grilled on skewers, as a side dish or a snack to have with drinks.
Rafute can thus be enjoyed in a variety of settings, from casual restaurants to Japanese-style pubs. Each family and restaurant has its unique recipe, resulting in varying flavors and techniques.
It is also an essential item at banquets during Hoji, a Buddhist memorial service in Japan. And the dish is highly regarded by locals, who believe it can prolong their life.
Rafute’s origin dates back to the Ryukyu Dynasty, where it was popular as a preserved food. The dish’s influence can be traced back to Chinese cuisine, where similar preparations of braised pork belly exist. However, Okinawan chefs have added their unique touch by using local ingredients such as awamori and bonito stock, resulting in a distinct flavor profile unique to Okinawa.
Overall, rafute is a must-try dish for anyone visiting Okinawa. With its melt-in-your-mouth texture, rich flavor, and historical significance, it is a dish that perfectly encapsulates the region’s culture and culinary traditions.
Typical Price range: 1,000-1,500 JPY /7.4 – 11.1 USD
WHERE TO EAT RAFUTE
Yunangii is an Okinawan restaurant located on Kokusai-dori Street, the most famous street in the downtown area of Naha, Okinawa. Kokusai-dori Street is home to numerous souvenir shops, as well as various restaurants and Izakaya, making it a bustling and vibrant area of Naha
Despite fierce competition, Yunangii has been in business since 1970, serving a wide range of local cuisine and Okinawa’s traditional distilled spirits.
The restaurant offers a variety of Okinawan home-style dishes made with local ingredients, including Okinawa-style tofu and vegetables, Goya Champuru, Jyusi (Okinawan rice porridge), Okinawa soba noodles, and Tebichi (stewed pork feet).
Their specialty dish, Rafute (stewed pork rib), is a must-try, with pork ribs slow-cooked in their original miso-based sauce. Yunangii’s Rafute has been highly praised as the most delicious in several tourist guidebooks.
In addition to their food, Yunangii also offers a range of alcoholic beverages, including Awamori, which is a must-try for those who enjoy Japanese sake or drinking alcohol in general.
Unlike many restaurants in the area, Yunangii is open for lunch, making it a great spot to grab a bite during the day.
ADDRESS: 3 Chome-3-3 Kumoji, Naha, Okinawa 900-0015, Japan
OPENING HOURS: 12:00–15:00, 17:30–22:30
CLOSED ON: Sundays and Holidays
PRICE: 1,000~1,999 yen during lunch time/2,000~2,999 yen during dinner time
Agu pork is a highly sought-after meat that is known for its tenderness and sweet taste. It is the pork version of Japan’s famous Wagyu beef.
The meat is obtained from a breed of pigs with black hair that are believed to be descended from the wild boar. The Agu breed was first introduced to Okinawa from China 600 years ago and has since become the island’s most commonly bred pig. Despite its long history, Agu pork was relatively unknown outside of Okinawa until recently.
Thanks to its excellent flavor and rarity, Agu pork has become a popular ingredient in many high-end restaurants in Japan. The pork fat is sweet and rich in umami, while the meat is marbled and tender.
Agu pork is often served as shabu-shabu, a Japanese hotpot dish where thinly sliced meat is cooked in a pot of boiling water or broth, and then dipped in a variety of sauces before being eaten. The meat is so tender that it melts in your mouth, and the broth it is cooked in becomes infused with its rich and savory flavor.
Another popular way to enjoy Agu pork is as yakiniku, a style of Japanese barbecue where thin slices of meat are grilled over an open flame. This allows the meat to caramelize and develop a slightly charred exterior while retaining its tenderness and flavor.
In addition to its unique taste and texture, Agu pork has also gained attention for its health benefits. The meat is low in cholesterol and rich in collagen, a protein that is known to improve skin elasticity and promote joint health. This has made it a popular choice for those who prioritize both taste and health in their food choices.
Agu pork is a rare and highly coveted ingredient in Japanese cuisine. It is actually, rare to find a pure-blooded Aguu pig, as most of the pigs available in the market today are crossbred with Western white pigs.
The scarcity of Agu pork has led to a higher price point compared to regular pork. As of 2023, the price for Agu pork is around 3,500 JPY or 25.73 USD, making it a luxury item in the culinary world.
While it may come at a higher price point, it is considered a must-try for anyone who wants to experience the best of Okinawan cuisine.
WHERE TO EAT AGU PORK
KIN AGUU (NAHA)
Aguu Shabushabu Kin, located in Kin (金武), Okinawa, is a must-visit restaurant for meat lovers. This restaurant specializes in Kin Aguu, a high-quality Japanese pork breed that is raised in Okinawa.
Aguu Shabushabu Kin is one of the few places where you can enjoy the authentic taste of pure-blooded Aguu pigs that are raised in Okinawa.
Unlike other restaurants, Aguu Shabushabu Kin serves the pork meat only with salt, miso, and black pepper, flavored with Citrus depressa, a local citrus fruit. This is to maximize the genuine taste of Kin Aguu.
Apart from the delicious pork, Aguu Shabushabu Kin offers an array of fresh vegetables that are harvested in Okinawa. One unique dish is the Kin Aguu with Umibudo (‘sea grapes’), which provides an interesting combination of flavors and textures.
If you are a meat lover, Aguu Shabushabu Kin is definitely a must-visit restaurant in Okinawa.
ADDRESS: 1 Chome-9-4 Makishi, Naha, Okinawa 900-0013, Japan
OPENING HOURS: 18:00–23:00
CLOSED ON: Sundays
PRICE: 5,000~9,999 yen
WEBSITE (JAPANESE): http://www.kinagu.com/agu.html
TONSEN OKINAWA (NANJO)
This small and homely restaurant is renowned for its delectable pork steak sets, served on sizzling hotplates. The meat served at this restaurant is succulent and guaranteed to satisfy your taste buds. What’s more, every pork steak set is served with as much salad as you want, making it a healthy and filling meal.
ADDRESS: Maekawa-418-1 Tamagusuku, Nanjo, Okinawa 901-1400, Japan
OPENING HOURS: 11:00–17:00
CLOSED ON: TUESDAYS
WEBSITE (JAPANESE): https://okinawa-casual-japanese-style-restaurant.business.site/
YASAI MAKIGUSHIYA GURURI (NAHA)
Yasai Makigushiya Gururi is a restaurant that offers delectable grilled skewers. Their signature dish consists of thinly sliced pork wrapped around fresh Okinawan vegetables grilled to perfection over charcoal. In addition to their skewers, they also serve a mouth-watering roast beef salad and a potato salad topped with a runny and oozy lava egg.
ADDRESS: 1-13-9, Makishi, Naha-shi, Okinawa 沖縄県那覇市牧志1-13-9
OPENING HOURS: (Monday – Thursday) 6:00 pm – 1:00 am, (Sunday, National Holidays) 6:00 pm – 1:00 am (Friday, Saturday, Day before national holiday) 6:00 pm – 2:00 am
CLOSED ON: None
WEBSITE (JAPANESE): https://r.gnavi.co.jp/c3bf67nt0000/
TEBICHI NO NITSUKE
Tebichi No Nitsuke is a traditional dish that has been a part of Okinawan cuisine for centuries. Okinawans are known for their unique culinary culture, which involves using every part of the pig in their cooking, including the feet. This practice was born out of necessity, as the island’s inhabitants had limited access to food and had to make the most out of what they had.
Tebichi No Nitsuke is made by boiling pork feet in a mixture of soy sauce, sugar, and water until they become tender and flavorful. The dish is also enhanced by the addition of grated daikon radish, carrots, tofu, and kombu kelp, which infuse it with their own unique flavors. The combination of these ingredients gives Tebichi No Nitsuke a sweet and savory taste that is truly unforgettable.
One of the key benefits of Tebichi No Nitsuke is that it is very rich in collagen, a protein that is essential for maintaining healthy skin and joints. This has made the dish very popular among Okinawans who believe in the health benefits of consuming collagen-rich foods. In fact, many Okinawan women swear by Tebichi No Nitsuke for its anti-aging properties, claiming that it helps to keep their skin looking young and healthy.
Tebichi No Nitsuke is a versatile dish that can be enjoyed in many different ways. It can be eaten on its own as a hearty stew, with a side of rice, or as a topping for Okinawan soba noodles. It is also a key ingredient in Okinawan oden, a popular hotpot-style dish that is usually served during the winter months. By the way if you are wondering when to go, we have written a whole blog post about the best time to visit Okinawa.
Okinawan oden typically includes a variety of ingredients such as fish cakes, eggs, and vegetables, all simmered together in a pork and bonito broth.
Whether enjoyed on its own or as part of a larger meal, Tebichi No Nitsuke is a must-try for anyone looking to experience the flavors of Okinawa.
WHERE TO EAT TEBICHI NO NITSUKE
Kazami is a popular restaurant located in Naha, the capital city of Okinawa, Japan. The restaurant is known for serving traditional Okinawan cuisine, with a focus on local and seasonal ingredients.
One of the standout dishes at Kazami is their Tebichi No Nitsuke, a popular Okinawan pork dish made with boiled pig’s feet. The restaurant’s version is cooked slowly over low heat, resulting in tender and flavorful meat that is infused with the flavors of daikon, carrots, and kombu kelp.
In addition to Tebichi No Nitsuke, Kazami also offers a variety of other Okinawan dishes, including goya champuru (stir-fried bitter melon), rafute (simmered pork belly), and Okinawan soba noodles. The restaurant prides itself on using only the freshest and highest quality ingredients, many of which are sourced directly from local farmers and fishermen.
Kazami’s interior is designed to evoke a sense of traditional Okinawan culture, with wooden tables and decor that reflects the island’s unique history and traditions. The restaurant is often busy and reservations are recommended to ensure a table.
Overall, Kazami is a must-visit for anyone looking to experience the authentic flavors of Okinawa in a welcoming and traditional atmosphere.
ADDRESS: 2 Chome-10-29 Matsuo, Naha, Okinawa 900-0014
OPENING HOURS: (Wednesday to Saturday) 12:00 -14:30 and 17.00-22.30, (Monday) 17.00-22.30
CLOSED ON: Sundays
WEBSITE (JAPANESE): https://kazami.ti-da.net/
In Okinawan cuisine, it is a common practice to use all parts of the pig in cooking. This includes the pig’s face, which is a popular delicacy
When prepared, the pig’s face is cooked until it becomes very gelatinous and has a unique texture that is somewhat akin to a savory jelly.
Despite its unusual appearance, the pig’s face is considered a delicacy in Okinawan cuisine and is highly prized for its rich umami flavor by locals and visitors alike.
It is often used as a key ingredient in a variety of local dishes, including stews, soups, and hotpots. It can also be consumed as a snack or a side dish as part of a larger meal. It is best enjoyed with a cold beer or awamori.
If you’re interested in trying the pig’s face for yourself, Naha’s markets are a great place to start. Many vendors sell pre-packaged versions of the dish that can be easily taken home and prepared. Just be prepared for a unique culinary experience that you’re unlikely to forget!
The price of the dish is approximately ¥1,800, or about S$23.50.
WHERE TO EAT PIGS HEAD
SHIMABUTA-SHICHIRINYAKI MANMI (NAGO)
At Shimabuta-Shichirinyaki Manmi restaurant, guests can savor the unique and flavorful Yanbaru Shimabuta pork by grilling it themselves on a traditional charcoal-fired shichirin grill. With a menu offering 16 different cuts of Yanbaru Shimabuta, diners can indulge in a variety of dishes ranging from the fatty pork belly to the chewy rectum (yes you read that right), all with distinctive flavors and textures.
In addition to the more adventurous cuts of pork, Shimabuta-Shichirinyaki Manmi also serves up classic favorites like the ribs and shoulder roast. To enhance the dining experience, the pork can be enjoyed with a special kombu sauce or rosemary herb salt.
For a lighter option, the restaurant also offers a salad made with fresh, seasonal vegetables and Shimadofu, a traditional Okinawan tofu made with seawater from the Yambaru area. This provides a healthy balance to the rich and flavorful Yanbaru Shimabuta.
Whether seeking a more adventurous meal or a classic favorite, Shimabuta-Shichirinyaki Manmi is a must-visit destination for anyone looking to indulge in the unique flavors of Okinawan cuisine.
NOTE: Yanbaru Shimabuta is a premium pork brand that results from crossing the native Agu pig breed with the Kurobuta (Berkshire) breed. The meat from this crossbreed is known for its high quality and is prized for its slightly sweet fat.
ADDRESS: 251 Isagawa, Nago City, Okinawa Prefecture, Japan
OPENING HOURS: 5 pm to 11 pm
CLOSED ON: Sundays and Mondays
WEBSITE (JAPANESE): https://kazami.ti-da.net/
MIMIGA – SLICED PORK EAR SALAD
Mimiga is a traditional Okinawan dish that has a preparation method similar to Vietnamese pork ear salad.
Although it may not sound appetizing, Mimiga is a dish that might just change your mind about pig’s ears.
The ears are steamed or boiled, then chopped to create a crunchy side dish which is usually served with various toppings such as vinegar, mayonnaise, ponzu sauce, hot miso or peanut dressing. It pairs particularly well with the local alcohol.
Locals love this dish for its unique taste, and the fact that it’s packed with collagen which makes it beneficial for both health and beauty.
In addition to steaming or boiling, pork ears can also be stir-fried with vegetables to create “Mimiga Irichi.”
While it might be an acquired taste, Mimiga proves the Okinawan saying that “every part of a pig can be eaten except for its hooves and its oink.”
Average Price: 1,000 JPY per disc/ 7.35 USD
WHERE TO EAT MIMIGA
Kiraku is a popular restaurant located in Naha, Okinawa, that specializes in Okinawan cuisine. The restaurant has a cozy and welcoming atmosphere, with traditional Japanese decor that adds to the overall dining experience.
One of the most popular dishes at Kiraku is Mimiga, which is a dish made from deep-fried pig ears. Many customers have praised the dish for its unique taste and texture, and it is a must-try for anyone looking to experience authentic Okinawan cuisine.
In addition to Mimiga, Kiraku offers a wide range of other Okinawan dishes, including Okinawa soba, goya champuru, and soki soba, among others. The restaurant also has a good selection of drinks, including local beer and awamori, a traditional Okinawan liquor.
Overall, Kiraku is a great restaurant to experience authentic Okinawan cuisine in a cozy and welcoming atmosphere. If you’re looking to try something new and exciting, be sure to give the Mimiga dish a try!
ADDRESS: 2-10-1 Matsuo, Naha 900-0014 Okinawa Prefecture
OPENING HOURS: (Daily) 11.00 to 20.00
CLOSED ON: Sundays
WEBSITE (JAPANESE): http://kousetsu-ichiba.com/
Nakami Jiru is a traditional pork soup that is widely recognized as the centerpiece of Okinawan cuisine.
This savory dish features a blend of pork offal such as intestines, liver, and stomach, alongside vegetables, miso, ginger, soy sauce and spices, which are slow-cooked to perfection. hile the recipe for Nakami Jiru varies by region and household, it always results in a rich and hearty soup that is both flavorful and nutritious.
Interestingly, Nakami Jiru is often compared to Motsuni, a popular Japanese dish made from beef tripe, due to the shared use of similar ingredients.
If you’re a food lover and enjoy trying unique and lesser-known cuisines, sampling Nakami Jiru while visiting Okinawa is a must-do activity that will broaden your culinary horizons and provide a memorable gastronomic experience.
WHERE TO EAT MIMIGA
Kunnato is a small, family-run restaurant located in the city of Nanjo in Okinawa, Japan. The restaurant specializes in Okinawan cuisine and is known for its friendly service and cozy atmosphere.
One of the standout dishes at Kunnato is the Nakami Jiru. The dish is cooked to perfection, with just the right amount of seasoning, and is a must-try for anyone visiting the restaurant.
In addition to Nakami Jiru, Kunnato offers a wide range of other Okinawan dishes, including Okinawa goya champuru, soba, soki soba, and stir-fried beef. The portions are generous and the prices are reasonable, making Kunnato a great choice for anyone looking to experience authentic Okinawan cuisine without breaking the bank.
The staff at Kunnato are warm and welcoming, and the atmosphere is relaxed and casual. Whether you’re visiting on your own or with friends and family, you’ll feel right at home at Kunnato.
Overall, Kunnato is a hidden gem in Nanjo, Okinawa, offering delicious Okinawan cuisine and friendly service in a cozy atmosphere. If you’re looking to experience the flavors of Okinawa, be sure to give Kunnato a try!
ADDRESS: 460-2 Shikembaru, Tamagusuku, Nanjo 901-0613 Okinawa Prefecture
OPENING HOURS: (Daily) 11.00 to 19.00
WEBSITE (JAPANESE): https://oujima.ti-da.net/
Abura miso is a versatile Japanese condiment made from a mixture of savory miso, sweet sugar, and umami-rich ground pork that forms a smooth paste.
The combination creates a deliciously rich and flavorful taste that adds depth to any dish. Indeed, a little bit of abura miso goes a long way in terms of adding a punch of flavor to your food.
This rice topping is commonly used to enhance the flavor of white rice, as well as rice balls and vegetable dips.
It is easy to find abura miso in souvenir shops across Okinawa, where it is often sold in small glass jars. This condiment makes for a unique and delicious souvenir for any food enthusiast or rice lover, as it allows them to bring a taste of Japan home with them.
As the Islands of Okinawa are surrounded by the ocean, it’s not surprising that seaweed and fish play a significant role in the preparation of Okinawan dishes.
It is therefore worth trying some of the unique seafood delicacies that can only be found in this region such as “green caviar” (umibudo) – made from green algae, “coconut crab” (yashigani), and “seasnake soup” (irabu-jiru).
You can find out more about these traditional Okinawan Seafood dishes below:
UMIBUDO / SEA GRAPES
Umibudo, also known as sea grapes, is a type of edible seaweed that only grows natively in the warm waters of Kagoshima and the Nansei Islands of Okinawa. The seaweed is also cultivated in Onna Village and Kume Island and is usually harvested from the fall to the spring of the next year.
This local specialty gets its name from the fact that it looks like tiny strings of grapes, with small balls at the end of each stem. The little balls pop in your mouth when eaten, and release a refreshing and mildly salty taste similar to caviar.
The best way to enjoy umibudo is to eat it fresh, together with a mixture of vinegar, soy sauce, and mirin (sanbaizu) or with a sweet and salty sauce (tare).
Umibudo makes for succulent snack and pairs well with a cold beer. It is usually eaten raw and on its own but can also be used as a garnish for many types of food .
In addition to its delicious taste, Umibudo is also known as a healthy snack option because it contains many vitamins and minerals that are beneficial for your body.
It is a popular Japanese food that can be found across Japan, but we would highly recommend tasting it fresh directly in the place where it is produced. You can also find Umibudo at local supermarkets and roadside stations, but it’s important not to keep it in the fridge as this will cause it to shrink and lose its flavor.
This local specialty is known as ‘green caviar’ because of its color and scarcity. So, if you ever have the chance to visit Okinawa or Kagoshima, make sure to try this unique and delicious dish for a memorable culinary experience.
Typical Price: 1,000-1,500 JPY per meal (7.4 – 11.1 USD)
WHERE TO EAT UMIBUDO / SEA GRAPES
SHIRASA SHOKUDO (NAKIJIN)
Shirasa Shokudo is situated on Kouri Island, a renowned tourist destination in northern Okinawa that can be accessed by crossing the Kouri Ohashi bridge by car. Don’t forget to taste their Kaisendon seafood rice that is served with various types of sashimi and Umibudo Sea Grapes.
ADDRESS: 176 Kouri, Nakijin-son, Kunigami-gun 905-0406 Okinawa Prefecture
OPENING HOURS: 11.00 to 18.00
CLOSED ON: None
WEBSITE (JAPANESE): http://shirasakouri.blog35.fc2.com/
TOKUJIN RESTAURANT (NANJO)
Tokujin Restaurant is situated at the southern port of Kudaka Island and is known for its signature dish, Umibudo-don, which is a rice bowl filled with grape seaweed and shredded herring, making it a perfect meal for anyone who enjoys this dish.
ADDRESS: 249-1 Chinen Kudaka, Nanjo 901-1501 Okinawa Prefecture
OPENING HOURS: 11.30 to 18.00
CLOSED ON: None
WEBSITE (JAPANESE): http://www.kudakajima.jp/tokujin.html
GANSO UMIBUDO (ONNA)
Visit Ganso Umibudo and step into a lively restaurant where you can indulge in delectable dishes featuring Umibudo. For a truly savory experience, try the Umibudo-don, a luxurious rice bowl generously topped with fresh sea urchin, salmon roe, grated yam, and the star ingredient, umibudo. There are plenty of other umibudo dishes to choose from, so dive into the taste of the sea with each delicious bite.
ADDRESS: 6092-1, Aza-Onna, Onna-mura, Kunigami-gun, Okinawa
OPENING HOURS: (Weekday) 11:00 am – 9:00 pm (Saturday, Sunday) 11:00 am – 9:00 pm
CLOSED ON: Tuesday
WEBSITE (JAPANESE): https://r.gnavi.co.jp/4xc3ubve0000/
OKINAWA MAIN BRANCH OF PAIKAJI (NAHA)
The Okinawa Main Branch of Paikaji, also known as “The Kitchen of Okinawa,” offers a comfortable dining experience with a focus on local cuisine. The restaurant is located in its own building, with decor that reflects the culture and atmosphere of Okinawa. This creates a welcoming environment for guests to relax and savor their meal at a leisurely pace.
The menu at Paikaji is extensive and features a variety of local delicacies, such as Sea Grape Salad, Pickled Green Papaya, Okinawan Vinegared Mozuku Seaweed, Okinawan Pancake, and Goya Chips (bitter melon chips). These dishes allow visitors to sample the unique flavors and ingredients of Okinawan cuisine.
ADDRESS: 4-8-26, Omoromachi, Naha-shi, Okinawa
OPENING HOURS: (Weekday) 5:00 pm – 1:30 am (Saturday, Sunday) 5:00 pm – 1:30 am
CLOSED ON: None
WEBSITE (JAPANESE): https://r.gnavi.co.jp/4xc3ubve0000/
Mozuku, also known as Sunui in the Okinawan language, is a popular type of brown seaweed found on Okinawa Island. While it can be found in other parts of Japan, Okinawa is a primary source of Mozuku for the Japanese market.
One way to prepare Mozuku is as a side dish by soaking it in vinegar. Sometimes it is deep-fried to create a brown seaweed tempura. It does have a slightly sticky texture, but it is also highly moorish.
YASHIGANI – COCONUT CRAB
The coconut crab, despite its name, does not belong to the crab family but rather to the hermit crab family of decapod crustaceans.
Coconut crabs have an average body length of 40 cm and weigh approximately 4 kg. They are primarily found on Miyako Island in Okinawa. Due to their declining population, the coconut crab is classified as a protected species. As such it is only available for consumption in Okinawa and is considered a rare delicacy.
Some restaurants in the Asahibashi Station area of Okinawa Island offer coconut crab as a menu item.
When served at a restaurant, the usually crab is boiled in its entirety. Diners are provided with a hammer to assist in cracking open its tough shell. It is often accompanied by sweetened vinegar (amazu) or soy sauce.
The meat of the coconut crab is similar in taste to crab or shrimp, and the shell is filled with deliciously flavored innards.
Sukugarasu is a dish commonly served in Okianwan izakayas (Japanese bars).
It consist of small pickled fish served on top of small cubes of tofu. The pickled fish is paired with the tofu, as on its own it is simply too salty to eat. By placing the fish on soft tofu, the salty flavor and crunchy texture are balanced out, creating a more pleasant taste experience.
Sukugarasu is typically enjoyed alongside alcoholic beverages.
Asa is a type of sea lettuce that is typically harvested at the start of the year from the shores of Ojima Island. It is usually boiled with tofu in soy sauce to create a flavorful Asa soup. Alternatively it is sometimes deep-fried to make Asa Tempura.
Dried Asa can also be purchased from various grocery stores throughout Okinawa and is often enjoyed as a healthy snack.
WHERE TO EAT ASA SOUP
Sakaemachi Arcade in Naha, Okinawa is a vibrant and bustling place that offers a unique shopping and dining experience. This covered arcade is home to numerous shops and restaurants that cater to a wide range of tastes and preferences. From traditional Okinawan souvenirs to trendy fashion boutiques, there is something for everyone at Sakaemachi Arcade. The street food scene is particularly noteworthy, with an abundance of delicious local specialties being solt here, including Asa soup. With its lively atmosphere and welcoming locals, Sakaemachi Arcade is definitely worth a visit for those looking to explore the heart of Naha city.
ADDRESS: 388 Asato, Naha 902-0067, Okinawa Prefecture
IRABU / SEA SNAKE SOUP
Sea snake soup (irabu-jiru) is a staple of traditional Okinawan cuisine. The soup is made from irabu, and takes 18-36 hours to prepare.
Irabu is actually the black-banded sea krait that is found in the waters around Kudaka Island. Believe it or not, it is more venomous than a cobra
Despite its potentially intimidating main ingredient, the soup is surprisingly delicious, with a rich umami flavor similar to tuna, kelp, and bacon.
The dish is quite labor-intensive, with the irabu smoked for a week, washed, parboiled, deboned by hand, and then simmered with kelp, pig’s feet stock (tebichi), and pork spareribs (soki).
Originally, it was exclusively served to royalty and aristocrats during the Ryukyu Dynasty era.
As very few restaurants on Okinawa Island serve irabu-jiru, it’s recommended to book in advance if you want to try this unique and historical dish.
WHERE TO EAT IRABU / SEA SNAKE SOUP
The dining experience at Kana Restaurant is truly exceptional, as they offer this traditional Ryukyuan dish that is not commonly found elsewhere.
Due to the extensive preparation time, the restaurant only serves 30 dishes per week.
Although the meal is expensive, the unique experience is well worth the cost.
ADDRESS: 515-5 Yagibaru, Kitanakagusuku, Nakagami-gun, Okinawa 901-2304
OPENING HOURS: 16.00 – 20:30
CLOSED ON: Sundays
PRICE: From ¥4,000 (~S$48.90)
It’s also worth mentioning that Okinawa has a reputation for its superfood, which is incredibly nutritious and beneficial for one’s health.
Okinawa is known for the longevity of it’s people and it’s low rates of chronic disease.
This has been attributed to the Okinawan diet which is rich in plant-based foods. In fact Okinawa has gained a reputation for its superfood, which is incredibly nutritious and beneficial for your health.
Okinawan food includes a variety of vegetables such as sweet potatoes, bitter melon, and goya, as well as tofu and seaweed. Okinawans also consume a lot of legumes and whole grains.
Additionally, Okinawans practice “Hara Hachi Bu,” which means to eat until you are 80% full, which helps to prevent overeating.
Overall, the healthy vegetarian food in Okinawa offers a balanced and nutrient-rich diet that may contribute to their longevity and well-being.
You can find out more about the best vegetarian dishes in Okinawa below.
When it comes to Okinawan cuisine, Goya Champuru is definitely a must-try. Trust us You won’t want to leave the island without trying a bowl of this dish! This pan-fried bitter melon dish is a unique and iconic Okinawan specialty that is extremely delicious and often served as an essential part of everyday meals.
Despite its strong bitter taste, bitter gourd, known as Goya in Japanese, is widely used in Okinawan dishes due to its high nutritional value. Goya is considered a superfood in Okinawa and is a rich source of vitamins and minerals, including Vitamin C, which makes it an ideal ingredient for a refreshing summer dish. Goya is even known as the ‘king of summer vegetables’ due to its ability to stimulate the appetite, even in extreme summer temperatures.
Goya is available as a snack in most convenience stores in Okinawa and is also a great souvenir to take back home from your trip.
There are many ways to prepare bitter gourd. It can be fried like tempura, sliced thinly and mixed in a salad, or served as a side dish.
Goya Champuru is an Okinawan stir fry dish that features bitter melon, tofu, egg, and pork belly or SPAM meat, along with other ingredients that contribute to its delicious flavor such as bonito flakes and soy sauce.
In the Okinawan language, the word “champuru” means “mixed” or “mixed up”, which is an appropriate name for the dish as it is a mixture of various ingredients.
Usually this dish is made with Okinawa-style tofu, which has a firmer texture and richer soy flavor than other tofu in Japan. This tofu maintains its shape even when cooked.
Over the course of a millennium, the people of Okinawa have had ample time to refine and improve upon this dish, resulting in the exceptional quality it possesses today.
Goya champuru has many variations, such as somen chanpuru which is made by adding Japanese thin flour noodles (somen), or fu chanpuru which includes gluten cakes (fu).
Typical Price: 980 JPY/ 7.2 USD
WHERE TO EAT GOYA CHAMPURU
HABU SHOKUDO (NAHA)
If you’re feeling famished and in search of a filling meal, this is the ideal destination since the servings here are massive! The stir-fried vegetable rice bowl only is approximately 30 cm high!
There’s a diverse selection of dishes to pick from. You can choose from Katsu-don (rice with pork cutlet), Onigiri (rice balls), and of course the traditional Okinawan dish Goya Chanpuru, all of which are generously portioned and affordably priced. It’s no surprise that this eatery is so well-liked.
ADDRESS: 4-22, Tondo-cho, Naha-shi, Okinawa
OPENING HOURS: (Tuesday – Saturday) 11:00 am – 5:30 pm
CLOSED ON: Monday, Sunday, National Holidays
WEBSITE (JAPANESE): https://r.gnavi.co.jp/ebacprnm0000/
Yamasyoo is a gastropub, also known as an izakaya, that specializes in serving authentic Okinawan cuisine, paired with refreshing drinks.
Due to its popularity, it is recommended to make a reservation in advance to secure a table.
In addition to course meals, customers can order individual dishes from the a la carte menu, which includes seasonal options like the savory Hirunufa Itame (garlic leaf stir-fry) and the flavorful Papaya Irichi (papaya stir-fry).
Yamasyoo also offers seven variations of Okinawa’s signature dishes Chanpuru,
ADDRESS: 2F, 5-1, Higashi-machi, Naha-shi, Okinawa
OPENING HOURS: (Weekday) 5:30 pm – 12:00 am
CLOSED ON: Second Monday of the month, Sunday, Begining and end of the year
WEBSITE (JAPANESE): http://www.yamasyoo.com/
SHIMA RAKKYO (OKINAWAN SHALLOT)
Negi, also known as shallot, is a widely used ingredient in Japanese cuisine. It is a crucial element in many Japanese dishes, providing essential flavor.
In addition to negi, Okinawan cuisine also features another type of scallion called Shima Rakkyo, which is native to Okinawa.
The Shima Rakkyo Shallot is typically harvested in April and is commonly served with a bit of salt or prepared as tempura.
WHERE TO EAT SHIMA RAKKYO
ITOMAN UMANCHU FARMERS MARKET
The Itoman Umanchu Farmers Market is a must-visit destination for anyone exploring Okinawa’s local food scene. This bustling market offers an authentic taste of Okinawan culture, with an impressive array of fresh seafood, produce, and local specialties. The market’s lively atmosphere and friendly vendors make it an enjoyable experience for all. Visitors can sample unique delicacies like Shima rakkyo tempura, deep-fried sea grapes, traditional Okinawan doughnuts, and fresh sashimi. Itoman Umanchu Market is definitely a fantastic place to indulge in Okinawa’s rich culinary traditions and discover new flavors.
ADDRESS: 4-20 Nishizaki, Michi-no-Eki Itoman, Itoman 901-0305, Okinawa Prefecture
OPENING HOURS: 09.00 – 18.00
CLOSED ON: None
WEBSITE (JAPANESE): https://www.ja-okinawa.or.jp/farmersmarket/
Yushi dofu or Island tofu, a type of tofu from Okinawa, is distinct from other forms of tofu due to its soft and tender texture. It is made from frozen bean paste and has a sweet taste. Unlike traditional tofu, Yushi dofu is not dehydrated or pressed into shape, retaining its natural brine and soybean flavor.
It can be enjoyed alone with a simple soy sauce dip or incorporated into miso soup and soki soba for added depth of flavor. Yushi Tofu is also often served in soup form with a garnish of chopped onion on top, adding an extra layer of flavor to the dish.
Yushi dofu’s unique texture and taste are an excellent alternative for those who find regular tofu bland.
WHERE TO YUSHI TOFU
IROHA TEI (NAHA)
Iroha Tei is a charming and authentic Japanese restaurant located in the heart of Naha. This restaurant is renowned for its authentic Okinawan cuisine and offers a selection of set dishes.
The restaurant’s traditional decor and warm atmosphere create a welcoming environment for diners, and the attentive and friendly staff further enhance the experience.
The food at Iroha Tei is exceptional, with a wide range of delicious dishes to choose from. The sushi is incredibly fresh and expertly prepared, while the grilled meats and seafood are tender and flavorful. The restaurant also offers an extensive sake menu, providing the perfect accompaniment to your meal.
The standout dish at Iroha Tei is undoubtedly the Okinawan-style soba, which is made in-house and has a rich and satisfying flavor. The portions are generous, making it an excellent value for money. Additionally, the presentation of the dishes is elegant and artful, adding to the overall dining experience.
If you are keen to sample some Yushi Tofu, then you should consider ordering their rice set (priced at around 1,500 JPY).
Overall, Iroha Tei is a must-visit for anyone looking to sample authentic Japanese cuisine in Naha. The restaurant’s delicious food, welcoming atmosphere, and excellent service make it an unforgettable dining experience.
OPENING HOURS: (Lunch) 11.30-15.00, (Dinner) 18.00-21.00
CLOSED ON: Wednesday and Thursday
WEBSITE (JAPANESE): http://www.irohatei.com/
PRICE: 1500 yen
TOFUNO HIGA (ISHIGAKI ISLAND)
The Tofuno Higa Restaurant is actually connected to a well tofu factory in Ishigaki.
It opens its doors at 6:30 am and served customers until the tofu is sold out, making it a great spot for breakfast. However, the restaurant does usually sell out quickly, so it’s best to arrive early. On weekdays, for instance, the shop typically closes around 10 am due to being sold out.
We would recomemnd that you try their traditional tofu breakfasts set, which is both simple and affordable (selling at around 500 JPY) but oh so delicious.
Tofuno Higa also sells packaged Tofu that would make for a great souvenir to take back home for one of your loved ones.
ADDRESS: 570 Ishigaki, Ishigaki 907-0023 Okinawa Prefecture
OPENING HOURS: 6.30-15.00
CLOSED ON: Sunday
PRICE: 500 yen
RYUKYU SABO ASHIBIUNA (NAHA)
If you’re in the Shuritonokura-cho area, make sure to visit Ryukyu Sabo Ashibiuna for a taste of local food and Awamori wine. The menu has a variety of options, including soup noodles, set meals, and a la carte dishes. Some notable dishes to try are the Squid Ink Soup and Yushi Tofu (tofu soup).
The restaurant is housed in a beautiful post-war house, with an enjoyable view and ambiance that adds to the dining experience. It’s conveniently located near Shuri Castle (Shuri-jo) and is an excellent option for lunch if you’re in the area sightseeing.
ADDRESS: 2-13, Shuritonokura-cho, Naha-shi, Okinawa
OPENING HOURS: (Weekday) Lunch 11:00 am – 3:00 pm, Dinner 5:00 pm – 11:00 pm (Saturday, Sunday) Lunch 11:00 am – 3:00 pm, Dinner 5:00 pm – 11:00 pm
CLOSED ON: Irregular
WEBSITE (JAPANESE): http://www.ryoji-family.co.jp/ryukyusabo.html
SHIMA-CHAN SHOKUDO (NAHA)
If you have a fondness for tofu, Shima-chan Shokudo is a must-visit for lunch.
Their Yushidofu is freshly made on-site at the tofu factory, and it is a local Okinawan delicacy with a slight saltiness to it.
The Yushidofu set meal is a great deal and comes with filling Okinawan-style rice, Okara Inari, salad, and Jimami tofu. Keep in mind that the restaurant shuts down once the tofu is sold out, so it’s best to arrive early.
ADDRESS: 2-3-12 Yogi, Naha City, Okinawa Prefecture 902-0076, Japan
OPENING HOURS: (Weekday) 11.30 am to 6 pm. (Saturdays) from 11.30 am to 5 pm.
CLOSED ON: Irregular
Another tasty tofu you might want to try is Jimami dofu. It is completely unique.
Unlike traditional tofu, Jimami dofu does not contain soy and is made by grinding peanuts and sweet potato starch to create a creamy and slightly sweet flavor.
This tofu can be enjoyed plain or with soy sauce and can be found at various bars and restaurants throughout Okinawa.
If you want to take some home, you can also find pre-packaged Jimami dofu at local supermarkets and souvenir shops.
Additionally, local department stores offer delicious peanut tofu cakes for those looking for a sweet treat.
WHERE TO EAT JIMAMI TOFU
Machinuya, located in Maejima, Naha, is a cozy restaurant that might tremind you off a log house.
It’s a great spot to hang out with friends while enjoying some delicious food and drinks.
The menu features a variety of small bites that are perfect for sharing, such as fresh sashimi, umibudo, Agu beef steak, and of course Okinawa-style jimami tofu.
ADDRESS: 2-7-14, Maejima, Naha-shi, Okinawa
OPENING HOURS: (Weekday) 5:30 pm – 12:00 am (Saturday) 5:30 pm – 12:00 am
CLOSED ON: Sunday
WEBSITE (JAPANESE): https://r.gnavi.co.jp/11vkxyu80000/
FERMENTED TOFU YO
Okinawa’s tofu yo is a fermented tofu made from shima dofu (see above).
The soft Okinawan tofu is marinated marinated with Okinawan liquor (awamori), red yeast, and malted rice (komekoji).
The initial concept for this Okinawan delicacy has its roots in China’s fermented bean curd (funyu), which was introduced to Okinawa during the Ryukyu Dynasty.
Tofu yo is highly nutritious, packed with protein and has a distinctive flavour that’s difficult to describe; some compare it to cheese or sea urchin. With a texture similar to cream cheese, tofu yo’s strong flavour is accentuated by the alcoholic notes of the awamori used in the fermentation process.
It is often referred to as “oriental cheese” and pairs perfectly with awamori, beer, shochu, and other Japanese spirits.
Originally reserved for the emperor’s family and a select few nobles during the Ryukyu Kingdom era, tofu yo is now widely available for anyone to enjoy.
Though the production process can be lengthy, it is well worth the wait for those who appreciate bold flavours.
Hirayachi is a type of savory pancake that is uniquely found in Okinawa.
It is made using a simple batter made from eggs, flour, salt, black pepper, and green onion.
It can be eaten as is or enjoyed with a dipping sauce consisting of soy sauce, vinegar, and sesame oil.
This dish is also known as “disaster food” in Okinawa, as it can be easily prepared using a portable gas stove and is made from ingredients that are commonly found in most households. This makes hirayachi a convenient and reliable meal option during power outages caused by severe weather conditions in remote areas of Okinawa.
WHERE TO EAT HIRAYASHI
YACHIMUN CAFE SHISAEN (KUNIGAMI)
Located in the serene mountains of central Okinawa Island, a coffee shop called Yachimun Cafe Shisaen offers the perfect setting for pure relaxation.
From the second-floor windows of the cafe, you can enjoy a picturesque view of Yanbaru forest while admiring the Okinawan lion statues (Shisa) on the rooftop.
When hunger strikes, try some mouthwatering Hirayachi, a type of Okinawan pancake made with flour dough, leeks, and green onions. If you’re in the mood for something sweet, indulge in the popular traditional brown sugar crepe, known as Chinpin (or Pawpaw).
Pair your snacks with a cup of the cafe’s signature home-roasted coffee, which is brewed using spring water from the park. And on hot days, quench your thirst with a refreshing “Ultra Fresh Citrus Juice” made with seasonal citrus fruits, such as locally produced Okinawan lime and tankan.
ADDRESS: 1439 Izumi, Motobu-cho, Kunigami-gun, Okinawa Prefecture 905-0221, Japan
OPENING HOURS: 11.00-19.00
CLOSED ON: Mondays and Tuesdays
Ninjin shirishiri is a regional specialty of Okinawa made by stir-frying grated carrots and eggs seasoned with salt and stock. In addition to the basic ingredients of carrots and eggs, many people also add tuna and cold cuts to enhance the flavor of the dish.
This classic home-cooked dish is often prepared using a traditional slicer known as shirishiri-ki, which is commonly found in households across Okinawa.
Ninjin shirishiri is a versatile dish that can be enjoyed as a side dish in boxed lunches (bento) or as a standalone meal.
Whether you’re dining at a local restaurant or eating at home, Ninjin shirishiri is a must-try dish for anyone visiting Okinawa.
WHERE TO EAT NINJIN SHIRISHIRI
CAFÉ GARAMANJAKU (KIN TOWN)
Café Garamanjaku is a restaurant that specializes in offering medicinal foods made with Okianwan vegetables and wild grasses.
The restaurant is situated in an old traditional house with a red tiled roof, surrounded by a beautiful garden full of wild grasses that can be used as ingredients.
If you’re looking to sample a variety of colorful wild grass and vegetable dishes, the Garaman Set Meal is a great option, as it features over 50 different ingredients. One of the highlights of the meal is the 5-color rice, which is cooked using natural colors like indigo and turmeric.
Other must-try dishes include sautéed, thinly sliced island carrots, bitter gourd boiled in soy sauce and brown sugar, and Umukuji Okinawan doughnuts, which are fried with crushed purple yam and golden yam. And don’t forget to try the Purple Yam Miki, a fermented wild grass smoothie that perfectly complements the meal.
All dishes are seasoned with simple ingredients like salt, miso, and soy sauce.
If you’re looking for an authentic Okinawan culinary experience, Café Garamanjaku is a must-visit.
ADDRESS: 10507-4 Kin, Kin Town, Okinawa Prefecture 904-1201, Japan
OPENING HOURS: 12.00-15.30
CLOSED ON: Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays
WASHOKU – TRADITIONAL JAPANESE DISHES
You might have heard that Okinawan cuisine isn’t as special or refined as other Washoku (traditional Japanese) dishes. Well, in our opinion, that simply isn’t true!
I can confidently say that Okinawan Soba is one of the best things I have ever tasted. It’s a simple noodle soup, but it’s the type of simplicity that hits you right in the taste buds. The noodles are thick and slightly chewy, and the broth is made from pork bones, giving it a rich and savory flavor that you won’t find anywhere else. And the best part? You can customize it to your liking by adding green onions, pickled ginger, konbu (edible seaweed), katsuobushi flakes, kamaboko (fish cake) or even a slice of juicy pork belly. Trust me when I say that once you try Okinawa soba, you’ll be hooked for life.
Okinawa soba may sound similar to Japanese soba, but they are actually quite different. So, if you’re a fan of Japanese soba, don’t assume that Okinawa soba will be the same thing. It’s a distinct and delicious dish that you simply have to try for yourself to truly appreciate.
While Japanese soba is made from buckwheat flour and has a nuttier flavor, Okinawa soba is made from wheat flour and has a slightly sweeter taste (a bit like Udon noodles).
The width and shape of the noodles vary by region and restaurant, making it a dish worth trying multiple times.
But it’s not just the noodles that set Okinawa soba apart. The broth is also a key factor in what makes this dish so delicious. Similar to ramen, Okinawa soba broth is typically made from pork bones, giving it a rich and savory flavor that is unique to the region.
And while Japanese soba is often served cold with a dipping sauce, Okinawa soba is usually served hot in a soup with various toppings.
Noodles are highly regarded in Okinawa, with a special day (October 17) dedicated to celebrating the dish. If you happen to visit Okinawa on this day, keep an eye out for more cost-effective prices or even a complimentary bowl of Okinawa Soba!
While Okinawa soba is the most well-known soba dish in the region, there are actually several variations of soba noodles that are unique to different parts of Okinawa.
Soki Soba is a popular variation that is typically found in the central part of Okinawa. The main difference between Soki Soba and Okinawa soba is the addition of tender pork ribs (known as “soki”) to the soup, giving it an extra layer of flavor and meatiness.
Ishigaki sobais named after the island of Ishigaki in the Yaeyama Islands. Ishigaki soba noodles are thinner and flatter than Okinawa soba noodles, and the broth is made with a mix of pork and bonito flakes for a unique umami flavor.
Miyako soba is named after the island of Miyako in the Miyako Islands. Miyako soba noodles are similar to Okinawa soba noodles in texture, but they are made with a mix of wheat and tapioca flour, giving them a chewier texture. The broth is typically made with pork bones and bonito flakes and is slightly sweeter than Okinawa soba broth.
Each of these variations has its own unique flavor and texture, but they all share the same comforting warmth and heartiness that make soba noodles such a beloved dish in Okinawa. So, whether you’re a first-time visitor or a seasoned Okinawa traveller, make sure to try each of these soba variations to truly appreciate the diversity and depth of Okinawan cuisine!
WHERE TO EAT OKINAWA SOBA
Shuri Soba was hands down one of the best dining experiences we had in Okinawa. We stumbled upon this small restaurant in Naha during our last trip to Okinawa.
The restaurant is located in a beautifully renovated traditional Okinawan house. The atmosphere in the restaurant was very cosy, with friendly staff who made us feel right at home.
Now, let’s get to the food. We were impressed with the variety of soba dishes on offer, from simple bowls with pork to more elaborate versions with seaweed and other toppings.
The star of the show is, of course, their Okinawa soba or sōki soba as they call it. The broth was rich, complex and flavourful with the perfect balance of pork bones, konbu (edible seaweed), and bonito flakes. The noodles were thick and chewy, just the way we like it. It was so good that we had to order seconds and were still left craving for more!
But the goodness doesn’t stop there. They also offer a variety of side dishes that are unique to Okinawa. We highly recommend trying the shima-rakkyo (Okinawan shallots), jimami tofu (tofu made of peanuts), and umibudo (sea grapes). Trust us, you won’t regret it.
And the best part? A set menu of sōki soba with the side dishes is also available. So you can try everything at once!
Lastly, the location of the restaurant is also very convenient as it’s close to the popular sightseeing spot, Shuri Castle. So, if you’re ever in the area, take a break from sightseeing and visit Shuri Soba for
an unforgettable Okinawa dining experience.
ADDRESS: 2 Chome-１３ Shuritonokuracho, Naha Shi, Okinawa 903-0812, Japan
OPENING HOURS: 11:00–15:00, 17:00–23:00
CLOSED ON: Irregular days off
PRICE: 1,000~1,500 yen during lunch time/2,000~5,000 yen during dinner time
WEBSITE (JAPANESE): http://www.ryoji-family.co.jp/ryukyusabo.html
YAGIYA RESTAURANT (YAESE)
We highly recommend checking out Yagiya Restaurant for an authentic and unforgettable dining experience.
Located in the heart of Yaease, this charming eatery offers a cozy and traditional atmosphere that perfectly captures the spirit of Okinawan culture. The staff are incredibly friendly and welcoming, always eager to share their knowledge of the local cuisine and make you feel right at home.
But of course, the real star of the show here is the food. Yagiya specializes in classic Okinawan dishes, with a focus on fresh, locally-sourced ingredients and bold, flavourful seasonings. Whether you’re a fan of savoury soups or hearty stews, there’s something here to suit every taste.
Personally, I highly recommend trying their signature dish: goya champuru. And if you’re in the mood for something a little more indulgent, be sure to try their melt-in-your-mouth soki soba or juicy Okinawan-style pork ribs. Trust me, you won’t regret it.
ADDRESS: １１７２番地 Oton, Yaese, Shimajiri District, Okinawa 901-0502, Japan
OPENING HOURS: 11.00-15.45
CLOSED ON: Tuesdays
WEBSITE (JAPANESE): http://www.ne.jp/asahi/to/yagiya/index.html
DAIWA RESTAURANT (MIYAKO ISLAND)
Daiwa restaurant on Miyako Island is a must-visit for anyone traveling to this part of Japan. The food here is simply outstanding and is sure to leave you with an unforgettable dining experience.
From the moment you step inside the restaurant, you are greeted by a warm and friendly staff who are more than happy to help you navigate the menu. The menu itself is extensive, with a wide variety of dishes to choose from, including fresh seafood caught right off the coast of Miyako Island.
We would of course suggest that you try Okianwa Soba. But another standout dishes at Daiwa is the Miyako Island beef, which is known for its incredible tenderness and flavour. The beef is cooked to perfection and is accompanied by a delicious dipping sauce that really brings out its natural flavours. If you’re a seafood lover, you won’t be disappointed either – the sashimi platter is absolutely phenomenal and features a wide variety of fresh fish caught that day.
In addition to the food, the atmosphere at Daiwa is also noteworthy. The restaurant is located right on the beach and offers stunning views of the ocean. It’s the perfect place to unwind after a day of exploring the island and soak in the beauty of Okinawa.
ADDRESS: Nishizato-819-3 Hirara, Miyakojima, Okinawa 906-0012, Japan
OPENING HOURS: (Lunch) 9.40-3.30, (Dinner) 17.15-1900
CLOSED ON: Tuesday
KISHIMOTO SHUKUDO (MOTOBUCHO)
If you’re looking for an authentic taste of Okinawan soba, you have got to check out Kishimoto Shokudo in Motobu-cho. This restaurant is seriously something special, and it’s been in business for over a century – can you believe that?! But let me tell you, it’s well worth a visit.
The menu at Kishimoto Shokudo is refreshingly simple, which is perfect for me because I can get easily overwhelmed with too many options. They have large and small portions of Kishimoto soba and Okinawan rice porridge. But although these dishes might sound simple, let me tell you, they are anything but basic. The Kishimoto soba is served in a light soy sauce-flavoured soup with bonito broth, and the flat noodles and thick boneless ribs are so savoury and delicious. And don’t even get me started on the toppings – kamaboko and island onion add the perfect pop of flavour.
The Okinawan rice porridge is also particularly popular. It’s so full of flavour that it sells out quickly, so make sure you get there early if you want to try it. We’re already drooling just thinking about it! And if you’re worried about lines, be sure to arrive right when the restaurant opens at 11 am. Trust us, this place is a hidden gem that you won’t want to miss.
ADDRESS: 5 Toguchi, Motobu-cho, Kunigami-gun, Okinawa Prefecture 905-0214, Japan
OPENING HOURS: 11.00-17.30
CLOSED ON: Wednesday
If you’re in Naha and a fan of Okinawan soba, then you definitely need to check out Sumanue. Their menu offers several different types of soba noodles with a variety of combinations of pork. But the real star of the show at this restaurant is the Sumanue Special Soba. This dish comes with a generous serving of pork belly, pork ribs, and pork trotters (we are aware that these might not be to everybody’s taste), all in a deliciously rich broth that packs a flavourful punch.
The restaurant itself has a cosy and welcoming atmosphere, with friendly staff who are happy to help with any questions about the menu. It’s located in a bustling area of Naha, so it’s a great spot to take a break from sightseeing and grab a satisfying meal.
If you’re worried about the language barrier, fear not – the menu has English translations, and the staff are able to communicate in English as well. And while there may be a bit of a wait during peak times, trust me when I say it’s worth it. So, if you’re in Naha and craving some hearty, delicious soba noodles, make your way over to Sumanue – you won’t regret it!
ADDRESS: １１７２番地 Oton, Yaese, Shimajiri District, Okinawa 901-0502, Japan
OPENING HOURS: 11.00-16.00
CLOSED ON: Monday, Obon Festival, Beginning and end of the year
WEBSITE (JAPANESE): https://r.gnavi.co.jp/2107cgab0000/
If you’re looking to try something new and exciting during your trip to Okinawa, I highly recommend giving tempura a try! I know, I know – tempura is typically associated with traditional Japanese cuisine and you might think I have already tried that. But trust us, the Okinawan version is soething special.
What sets it apart? For starters, they use local ingredients to create unique flavor combinations you won’t find anywhere else. We tried goya bitter melon and benimo, the purple sweet potatoes that Okinawans love to use in both savoury and sweet dishes, and they make for some seriously delicious tempura. But the real standout is Mozuka tempura – a type of algae that is salted and fried to perfection. I was a bit sceptical at first, but one bite and I was hooked.
Plus, the history behind tempura is fascinating. Did you know that it was actually inspired by a Portuguese recipe? Apparently, Portuguese traders brought a meat-free, deep-fried recipe to Japan‘s historic port city of Nagasaki during the 16th century, and tempura was born.
So if you’re looking for a tasty and unique culinary experience in Okinawa, definitely give tempura a try. And if you’re not sure where to start, we recommend checking out some of the local tempura shops – they know how to do it right!
WHERE TO EAT TEMPURA?
Step into Oshiro Tempuraten and you’ll instantly feel at home. The decor is charmingly Okinawan and the staff are so friendly, you’ll feel like you’ve known them for years.
The menu offers a wide range of options, but we can’t stress enough how important it is to try their signature tempura set. The mix of seafood and vegetables is absolutely perfect – each piece fried to a golden crisp.
The shrimp and sweet potato tempura were particularly divine, but what really stood out were the dipping sauces. They were unlike anything we’d ever tried before – sweet soy sauce, tangy citrus ponzu, and spicy chili – each complementing the tempura in its own unique way. We found ourselves mixing and matching, trying different combinations with each bite.
If you’re in the mood for something other than tempura, don’t worry – they have plenty of other options like fresh sashimi and perfectly grilled fish.
But, if you’re feeling adventurous, we highly recommend giving the traditional Okinawan pork and vegetable stir-fry a try.
All in all, we cannot recommend Oshiro Tempuraten enough. If you’re in the Nanjo area, you absolutely must pay them a visit. We can’t wait to return!
ADDRESS: 193 Tamagusuku Ou, Nanjo 901-0614 Okinawa Prefecture
OPENING HOURS: 11.00-19.00
CLOSED ON: Monday
Teppanyaki grill is a unique style of cooking where the chef grills your food right in front of you on a hot iron griddle, giving it that smoky, slightly charred flavour. Absolutely delicious!
The best part – in our opinion – is that you get to watch the chef perform their culinary magic right before your eyes! Watching you dinner be cooked is a truly immersive experience that adds to the enjoyment of the dish. The sizzling sounds, the tantalizing smells, and the sight of the food cooking right in front of you create a sensory experience like no other.
Another great thing about teppanyaki grill is that it’s a versatile dish. You can choose from a variety of proteins, such as beef, chicken, shrimp, and scallops, and even mix and match them to create your own unique combination. The vegetables are also grilled to perfection, adding a healthy and flavourful element to the dish.
Finally, we have to mention the sauce. Teppanyaki grill is typically served with a delicious dipping sauce that complements the flavours of the grilled meat and vegetables. It’s the perfect finishing touch to an already amazing meal.
From perfectly grilled steak to succulent seafood, the teppanyaki grill is a must-try for any foodie visiting Okinawa. Trust us, once you’ve tried it, you’ll be hooked!
WHERE TO EAT TEPPANYAKI?
HEKI KOKUSAIDORI MATSUO
If you’re looking for a restaurant that offers a great dining experience for the whole family, then we highly recommend Heki Kokusaidori Matsuo in Naha. Especially their mouth-watering steak, which will blow you away. It is cooked to perfection and has just the right amount of seasoning. The presentation is also impressive, showing the chefs take pride in their work.
But what really sets this place apart is their top-notch teppanyaki grill. If you’re up for some culinary entertainment, watching the skilled chefs work their magic on the grill is a must-see. The sizzling sound and mouth-watering aroma of the grill will make your taste buds tingle with anticipation. You can choose from a variety of meats, seafood, and vegetables, all cooked to perfection right in front of your eyes.
The chefs are not only skilled in cooking, but they also add an element of showmanship to the dining experience. Tricks like flipping shrimp tails into their hats or creating a volcano of onion rings are just a few examples. It’s a fun and interactive way to enjoy a meal with friends or family.
And the best part? The food tastes just as good as it looks and smells. Whether you’re in the mood for a juicy steak, succulent seafood, or flavourful veggies, the teppanyaki grill at Heki Kokusaidori Matsuo has got you covered.
The prices are reasonable, especially considering the quality of the food and the experience as a whole.
It’s no surprise that this restaurant is a favourite among both locals and tourists. So if you’re in Naha and looking for a dining experience that you won’t forget, make sure to add Heki Kokusaidori Matsuo to your itinerary. Trust us, you won’t regret it!
ADDRESS: 1-2-9 Matsuo, Naha 900-0014 Okinawa Prefecture
OPENING HOURS: 11.30-23.00
CLOSED ON: None
WEBSITE (JAPANESE): https://www.heki.co.jp/tenpo/matsuo.html
NABE – TRADITIONAL JAPANESE HOTPOT
Have you ever tried Japanese hotpot? As a seasoned travellers of Japan (including the beautiful islands of Okinawa), we cannot recommend this dish enough.
It’s a fun and interactive way to enjoy a meal with friends or family.
A big pot is placed on the table, filled with a flavourful broth that is heated by a portable stove. The broth is simmered for hours with a variety of ingredients, such as kelp and dried bonito flakes, to give it a deep umami flavour Then, you get to choose from an array of fresh ingredients to cook in the broth right at your table, including sliced beef, seafood, tofu, and vegetables. It’s fun to see what ingredients everyone chooses and how they customize their own bowl.
Our favourite part is dipping the cooked food into a variety of delicious sauces.
It’s like a DIY cooking experience, but without the prep work or clean up. Trust us, your taste buds will thank you for trying this savoury and comforting dish.
WHERE TO EAT NABE?
End your trip to Okinawa with a bang and make it truly unforgettable by visiting Yotsutake for a dinner to remember!
You won’t just be indulging in a delicious hotpot filled with tasty noodles, meat, vegetables, and scrumptious dipping sauces, but you’ll also be treated to an amazing display of modern Ryukyuan performances.
The hotpot at Yotsutake is a feast for the senses! The aroma of the sizzling meat and vegetables fills the air, making your mouth water in anticipation. The broth is rich and flavourful, perfectly complementing the fresh ingredients. And you won’t get enough of the delicious dipping sauces – each one has its own unique taste that adds to the already amazing flavours.
What make your evening at Yotsutake even more special is the live performances. The modern Ryukyuan music and dance are beautiful to watch and listen to. It really adds to the ambiance of the restaurant and will make your experience truly unforgettable.
It’s a feast for both your taste buds and your eyes as you witness talented performers showcase their skills, all while enjoying a hot and steamy meal. Trust us, it’s the perfect way to end your Okinawan adventure on a high note! You will leave feeling full, happy, and grateful for such a memorable night.
ADDRESS: 2-22-1 Kume, Naha 900-0033 Okinawa Prefecture
OPENING HOURS: (Lunch) 11.30-14.00; (Dinner) 18.00-22.00
CLOSED ON: None
PRICE: From ¥4,000 (~S$48.90)
WEBSITE (JAPANESE): https://yotsutake.co.jp/kume
ISHIGAKI WAGYU BEEF
Attention all meat lovers! If you’re visiting Okinawa, then you simply cannot miss out on the delicious Ishigaki wagyu beef. The exceptional flavour and high marbling of this beef makes it stand out from other types of meat.
The cows are raised in a stress-free environment on Ishigaki Island and fed with special feed to enhance the meat’s quality, resulting in a culinary masterpiece that is sure to leave a lasting impression.
One of the best ways to experience this delicacy is at a yakiniku restaurant where you can grill the meat to your liking right at your table. The staff are almost always willing to offer recommendations on how to cook the meat to perfection and will suggest different dipping sauces and seasonings to elevate the flavour.
The Ishigaki wagyu beef is so tender and juicy that it practically melts in your mouth, and the rich umami taste will have you craving for more.
Don’t miss the opportunity to try different cuts of Ishigaki wagyu beef, such as sirloin, ribeye, and tenderloin, depending on your preferences. Some restaurants even offer special dishes that showcase the beef’s flavour, such as wagyu sushi or wagyu hotpot. Every bite of this premium beef is an experience in itself, and it’s definitely a must-try for any foodie visiting Okinawa..
WHERE TO EAT ISHIGAKI WAGYU BEEF?
Yakiniku Hana is the perfect destination for meat lovers who want to indulge in a luxury BBQ dinner. Not only can you savor Ishigaki beef, but you also have other options of Okinawa Wagyu beef to choose from, all complemented by an impressive wine selection.
What’s unique about Yakiniku Hana is that they offer a rare and sought-after cut of beef, the Special Choice Ishigaki Misuji, at a rather affordable price. This exquisite part can only be taken from a cow in small quantities, making it highly desirable.
The skilled staff at Yakiniku Hana cater to all preferences by offering a wide range of cuts of beef and courses. And to enhance the flavour even further, they carefully match different parts of the Wagyu beef with various types of natural sea salt.
The Japanese Wagyu beef is so tender and succulent that it almost melts in your mouth. With the perfect seasoning, you’re guaranteed to be left wanting more.
Moreover, the vast selection of champagnes and wines makes Yakiniku Hana an ideal destination for a luxurious and unforgettable dinner.
Whether you’re celebrating a special occasion or just treating yourself, Yakiniku Hana is sure to exceed your expectations.
ADDRESS: 1-12-5 Matsuyama 1f, Naha 900-0032 Okinawa Prefecture
OPENING HOURS: (Mon-Sat) 17.30-24.00; (Sun and Holidays) 17.30-23.00
CLOSED ON: None
PRICE: 10,000~14,999 yen
WEBSITE (JAPANESE): http://www.yakinikuhana.com/
If you’re visiting Okinawa and haven’t tried Okonomiyaki yet, you’re missing out!
This savoury pancake is a beloved dish that you can find all over Japan, but each region has its unique twist on the recipe. We first tried it in Miyajima, loved it and always seek it out in Japan since then.
Typically Okonomiyaki is made with a batter of flour, eggs, and shredded cabbage, and then topped with an assortment of toppings, such as pork belly, squid, shrimp, and green onions
In the Okinawan version, Hirayachi, the shredded cabbage is replaced with spring onions.
What I love about this dish is that you can customize it with your preferred toppings and sauces, like okonomiyaki sauce, mayonnaise, and bonito flakes.
It’s like having your own personal pizza, but even better because you get to cook it right at your table. Trust me, the experience of cooking and eating Okonomiyaki is a delight that you don’t want to miss!
If you are a foodie like us, then you must try the mouth-watering Okinawan sushi.
Unlike the sushi you find in other parts of Japan, Okinawan sushi has its unique twist that will leave you wanting more. The sushi is made with fresh seafood caught in the surrounding waters and unique varieties of seaweed, giving you a taste of the ocean in every bite. The rice is also seasoned with Okinawan vinegar, giving it a slightly sweet taste that perfectly complements the savoury toppings. One of the local specialties is “sushi tempura,” where the sushi rolls are deep-fried until crispy and golden brown – trust us, it’s delicious!
Another must-try is the “inari sushi,” which is made with pockets of fried tofu stuffed with sushi rice and a variety of fillings like cooked vegetables, pickles, or seafood.
For the daring, we recommend the local specialty of “shima sushi,” which is a unique type of sushi made with vinegared rice, fresh seafood, and wrapped in a fragrant leaf from the “shimamomiji” tree – it’s a flavour explosion!
Of course, traditional sushi options like nigiri and maki rolls are available too.
Overall, Okinawan sushi is a must-try for any food lover visiting the island. So, don’t miss out on the fresh and unique flavours of this Okinawan specialty!
WHERE TO EAT SUSHI?
Hitoshi Ishiganto is a restaurant that truly provides a feast for the senses! The menu is eclectic and varied, with a fantastic range of dishes that showcase the very best of Okinawan cuisine. From succulent seafood to perfectly cooked meats, there’s something for everyone.
But let us tell you about the beef. The Ishigaki beef served at this restaurant is simply incredible. It’s so tender and juicy that it practically melts in your mouth.
And don’t even get me started on the sashimi – it’s hands down the freshest and most delicious fish I’ve ever tasted.
The presentation is a work of art! Every time a new plate was brought out to us, we were just in awe of how stunning they looked.
It’s clear that the chefs here take great care and pride in preparing each dish with the utmost attention to detail.
But it’s not just the food that’s fantastic – the service is impeccable too. The staff are so attentive and friendly, and they really go above and beyond to make sure that your experience is top-notch. They’re always happy to give recommendations and explain the different ingredients and cooking techniques used in each dish.
Yes, Hitoshi Ishiganto is definitely on the pricier side, but it is worth every penny. We would sugegst that you come here for a special occasion. Or just when you want to treat yourself to an unforgettable dining experience.
Be sure to make a reservation though. The place fills up quickly!
ADDRESS: 197-1 Okawa, Ishigaki 907-0022, Okinawa Prefecture
OPENING HOURS: 17.00-23.00
CLOSED ON: Sundays
Okinawa is located near China and Taiwan and is also home to several US military troops, all of which have had a noticeable impact on the local cuisine. This cultural fusion has resulted in a unique culinary scene found only on these islands.
Thanks to these diverse cultural influences, Okinawa is famous for its fusion food, including the Japanese-American dish known as taco rice, which was inspired by the US military base in Chatan.
You can find out more about these dishes below:
Taco Rice is a dish that originated in Okinawa in the 1980s and it’s a delicious fusion of Japanese and Mexican cuisine. It’s said to have been invented by a Japanese restaurant owner who wanted to cater to the taste of American soldiers stationed nearby. The dish is made up of seasoned minced meat, lettuce, cheese, and salsa, all served on top of a bed of rice.
What makes Taco Rice so unique is the way it blends the best flavors of both cultures. The ground beef is seasoned with typical taco meat spices, giving it a Tex-Mex vibe, but it’s served on top of Japanese-style rice. It’s the perfect comfort food that satisfies all your cravings in one dish!
Taco Rice is a staple dish in Okinawan food culture and you can find it everywhere, from restaurants to school cafeterias to supermarkets. It’s not just delicious, it’s also affordable, costing around 500-800 JPY or 3.7-5.92 USD. Trust me, after you try it, you’ll be hooked just like I am!
WHERE TO EAT TACO RICE?
KING TACO (KIN TOWN)
If you are a fan of tacos, you must check out King Taco. This restaurant has several branches, but the original store is in Kin-cho.
This is where Taco Rice was first invented / created. The story goes that this famous fast food was invented in 1984 at the Parlor Senri restaurant, where they first served taco meat on top of rice.
King Taco has since perfected the dish, and it’s absolutely delicious!
I recommend trying the “taco rice cheese vegetable” option, which comes with cheese, tomatoes, and lettuce. The dish is packed with flavor and has crispy vegetables, spicy salsa sauce, and, of course, taco meat and cheese. It’s a meal that will keep you hooked until the very last bite.
Be warned, though, the portions are huge! You won’t believe your eyes when you see how much food you get.
If you’re visiting the Kin Main Store, you’ll notice the strong sense of American culture in the area. The restaurant is always serving plenty of customers, and you can tell why!
ADDRESS: 4244-4 Kin, Kin-cho, Kunigami-gun 904-1201 Okinawa Prefecture
OPENING HOURS: 10.30-13.00
CLOSED ON: None
WEBSITE (JAPANESE): https://www.facebook.com/kingtacos
If you’re on the hunt for a culinary adventure in Okinawa, then Marutama in Naha is the spot you’ve got to check out! They’ve put their own unique spin on traditional Okinawan cuisine by adding their homemade miso to a salsa sauce, creating a fusion dish that’ll have your taste buds singing!
Tamanaha miso is the special miso used in this and other dishes at Marutama, and it’s been lovingly preserved and re-produced at their traditional miso storehouse for an impressive 170 years. Can you imagine how much love and history goes into every dish they serve?
Another thing that makes Marutama so special is that depending on the time of day, you can try out different kinds of Okinawan cuisine. But no matter what you choose, you’ll be treated to a dish infused with their very own home-prepared miso. Trust us, it’s a flavour explosion that you won’t forget any time soon!
And if you’re a fan of Taco rice, then you’ve got to give their version with Tamanaha miso a try. It’s an experience you won’t find anywhere else, and the miso just takes the dish to a whole new level of deliciousness! And the best part? If you’re really obsessed with the miso, you can even buy a jar to take home as a souvenir.
All in all, Marutama is an absolute must-visit for anyone looking for Japanese cuisine with a twist. It’s a foodie adventure you won’t forget!
ADDRESS: 2-4-3 Izumizaki, Naha 900-0021 Okinawa Prefecture
OPENING HOURS: (Mon-Wed and Fri-Sat) 7.30-20.00; (Thu) 7.30-14.00
CLOSED ON: Sundays
AVERAGE PRICE: 1,500~2,500 yen
WEBSITE (JAPANESE): http://marutama-miso.com/
HAMABE NO CHAYA (NANJO)
If you’re a fan of Taco rice and you find yourself in Nanjo, Okinawa, you absolutely have to check out Hamabe No Tipi restaurant.
Their Taco rice is out of this world – it’s the perfect combination of savoury meat, crisp lettuce, tangy salsa, and melty cheese all served on a bed of fluffy white rice. The portion size is generous, and the flavours are just right.
We also appreciated that they use high-quality ingredients and the dish is always served piping hot.
The atmosphere of the restaurant is also great – it’s casual and welcoming, with a rustic feel that complements the surrounding nature. From the moment you walk in, you will be struck by the stunning ocean view. The outdoor seating area is just a few steps from the ocean and provides an unbeatable backdrop for a relaxing meal.
Overall, we highly recommend Hamabe No Tipi for their delicious Taco rice and the overall dining experience.
ADDRESS: 2-1 Tamagusuku Tamagusuku, Nanjo 901-0604 Okinawa Prefecture
OPENING HOURS: (Mon-Thu) 10.00-20.00; (Fri-Sun) 8.00-20.00
CLOSED ON: None
WEBSITE (JAPANESE): http://sachibaru.jp/hamacha/
SORANIWA RESTAURANT (IRABU ISLAND)
If you’re a fan of Taco rice and happen to be on Irabu Island in Okinawa, Soraniwa restaurant is a must-visit spot.
The dish is their specialty, and it’s simply mouth-watering. Picture a generous portion of seasoned ground beef served on a bed of fluffy rice, topped with lettuce, tomato, cheese, and a dollop of tangy salsa.
The flavours all come together in perfect harmony, creating a symphony of deliciousness in your mouth. And the best part? The portions are so generous that you’ll likely need to share with a friend or take some home for later.
Plus, the views from the restaurant overlooking the ocean are breath-taking, making for a truly memorable dining experience.
ADDRESS: Irabu-721-1 Irabu, Miyakojima, Okinawa 906-0503, Japan
OPENING HOURS: 11.30-18.00
CLOSED ON: Wednesdays
WEBSITE (JAPANESE): http://soraniwa.org/
One surprising dish that you should definitely try in Okinawa is the Okinawan-style pizza.
This pizza is made with a unique crust that is a cross between pizza dough and Okinawan sweet bread, giving it a slightly sweet taste and a chewy texture. It was honestly one of the best pizzas we ever ate.
The toppings are also a departure from traditional pizza, featuring local Okinawan ingredients like goya (bitter melon), spam, and mozuku seaweed. While it may sound like an odd combination, the flavours work surprisingly well together and create a dish that is both delicious and uniquely Okinawan.
You can find Okinawan-style pizza at many pizza places throughout the island, but one of the most popular is Pizza in the Sky, which offers stunning views of Okinawa from its rooftop location. Trust us, you won’t be disappointed!
WHERE TO PIZZA IN OKINAWA?
PIZZA IN THE SKY
If you are in Okinawa and fancy a pizza, we’ve got a great recommendation for you: Pizza in the Sky Kajinho! It’s a café perched atop a hill in Motobu Town, serving up some seriously delicious handmade pizza with a stunning view of Ieshima Island, Sesoko Island and Minna Island to boot.
The pizza is made with sweet, soft water from Okuni Trail and has a soft, chewy texture that is seriously addictive. You can get a small pizza for 1,300 yen or a large for 2,600 yen, which feeds up to four people.
The café is housed in an old-fashioned Ryukyuan-style house, complete with a tile roof, so you can get a taste of how ancient Okinawans once lived. The garden is also really lovely, with plenty of benches and chairs where you can relax and take in the view.
The café is always packed, but it’s totally worth the wait. If you want to avoid the crowds, it’s best to visit in the evening when it’s quieter and you can watch the sunset while enjoying your meal. The cherry blossoms festival between the middle of January and the first week of February every year is especially busy, so it’s best to avoid that time if you can.
Trust us, this place is definitely worth a visit!
ADDRESS: 1153-2 Yamazato, Motobu-cho, Kunigami-gun 905-0219 Okinawa Prefecture
OPENING HOURS: 11.30-19.00
CLOSED ON: Tuesdays and Wednesdays
AVERAGE PRICE: small pizza for 1,300 yen or a large for 2,600 yen
WEBSITE (JAPANESE): http://kajinhou.com/
DESSERTS AND SWEET TREATS
BLUESEAL ICE CREAM
If you’re planning a trip to Okinawa, make sure to add Blue Seal ice cream to your list of must-try local delicacies You simply can’t leave Okinawa without trying at least one scoop of this famous ice cream. We promise this ice cream is like no other you’ve ever tasted.
Okinawa has the hottest temperatures in all of Japan. Even in Winter the temperature rarely drops below 15°C. A delicious ice-cream cone therefore serves a refreshing treat for anyone exploring the islands. It also it’s a rather affordable snack, with the average price for a Blue Seal ice-cream cone is 280 JPY/ 2.06 USD.
Blue Seal has been a beloved brand in Okinawa for 68 years, and it’s not hard to see why. The ice cream is known for its melt-in-your-mouth texture and unique flavors that are unique to Okinawa.
There are plenty of flavours to choose from. And some of these flavours can only be found in Japan, like Azuki (red bean), Matcha (green tea), or Sakura (cherry blossom).
One of our personal favorite Blue Seal flavours is shikuwasa, a citrus fruit that grows in Okinawa. The tangy and refreshing taste is perfect for hot Okinawan summers. Another must-try flavour in our opinion is purple sweet potato, which has a slightly sweet and nutty flavor that is unique to Okinawa. And if you have a sweet tooth, you won’t be disappointed with the strawberry cheesecake flavour.
But it’s not just the flavors that make Blue Seal ice cream so special. The quality of the ingredients is top-notch, with many of them sourced from local Okinawan farms.
It’s no wonder why Blue Seal ice cream has become such an iconic part of Okinawan food culture. Trust us, you won’t regret trying this delicious treat during your visit to Okinawa.
YUKISHIO / SALT ICE CREAM
Speaking of ice-cream, we also recommend that you try the unique and delicious salt ice cream that can be found all other the island. Now, I know the idea of salty ice cream might sound a bit odd, but trust us, it’s a flavour sensation you won’t regret.
You can find sea salted ice cream all over the island, from local ice cream shops to the freezer section of supermarkets. But if you want to try the best of the best, then head over to the Yukishio Saltworks, where they make a silky soft serve salted ice cream called “Yukishio”. The name means “snow salt”, and it’s made using a type of healthy salt from Miyako Island that’s loaded with minerals.
Believe it or not, this ice cream is actually quite nutritious, as it contains more minerals than any other food! Plus, the sea salt is believed to help replenish the salt lost from sweating in Okinawa’s hot climate, making it the perfect treat to enjoy after a day of exploring.
But the best part? The ice cream comes with a variety of different flavoured mouth-watering salt toppings, from hibiscus to cocoa to wasabi and more! Yes, you read that right – wasabi ice cream is a thing, and it’s surprisingly delicious. It’s actually the perfect balance of spicy and sweet. If you’re feeling a little less adventurous, there are plenty of other sweet flavours to choose from as well.
The average price for a cone of salt ice cream is ¥350 ($4.60).
So if you want to fully immerse yourself in the Okinawan food culture, then sea salted ice cream is a must-try. Trust us, you won’t regret it!
KOKUTO / BLACK SUGAR
Have you ever heard of Okinawan black sugar, also known as “kokuto?” It’s a type of unrefined sugar that’s made by boiling down sugar cane juice until it becomes thick and dark. This sugar is quite different from the regular white sugar that we’re used to. It has a rich, molasses-like flavour and a beautiful amber colour. And the best part is, it’s healthier than white sugar because it contains more minerals.
One of the best ways to enjoy Okinawan black sugar is in the form of “shikuwasa black sugar juice.” Shikuwasa is a small citrus fruit that’s native to Okinawa, and when combined with black sugar and water, it makes a refreshing and healthy drink that’s perfect for those hot Okinawan summers. Trust us, it’s not sickly sweet, but just sweet enough to satisfy your sweet tooth. We first tried this drink at pizza in the sky and honestly could drink it all day long!
But wait, there’s more! You can also find Okinawan black sugar in other sweet treats like sweet potato and pumpkin cakes. And get this, it can also be used in savoury dishes like miso soup and stir-fry. It adds a unique depth of flavour to any dish it’s used in.
So, if you’re a fan of sweets or just looking to try something new and unique, you have to add Okinawan black sugar to your must-try list when visiting Okinawa. And when you do try it, make sure to bring some back home with you to use in your own cooking.
In conclusion, Okinawa is a foodie’s paradise with a unique blend of Japanese and local influences. From savoury dishes like Okinawa soba and goya champuru to sweet treats like shaved ice and salted ice cream, there’s something for everyone to enjoy.
But beyond the delicious flavours, what makes Okinawan food so special is its connection to the island’s culture and history. Each dish has a story to tell, whether it’s the use of local ingredients or the influence of Okinawa’s diverse cultural heritage.
Having visited Okinawa ourselves for our honeymoon, and gorged ourselves in the various Okinawan restaurants, we can’t recommend the food enough.
So if you ever find yourself in Okinawa, be sure to try as many local dishes as you can, and embrace the island’s rich culinary traditions. Trust us, your taste buds will thank you.
If you enjoyed this post and found it useful, don’t forget to check-out our other posts about Okinawa:
- Our detailed Okinawa Itinerary
- Our awesome guide on where to stay in Okinawa
- Our in depth look at the best things to do in Okinawa
- Our month by month guide to the best time to visit Okinawa