While Okinawa’s food didn’t particularly blow me away, I had an nice time trying some of it’s dishes. :)
My Top 4
1. Mozuku Tempura
I guess this is kind of cheating because I love tempura, but this stuff was really good!
Mozuku is a a seaweed exclusive to Okinawa. In it’s non-tempura form, it’s kind of thick, wet, sticky, and slippery. The taste isn’t particularly strong, but it is refreshing in raw form. In it’s tempura form, it is even better! :)
The mozuku tempura pictured above was from a restaurant called ぽっけ on the island Iriomote. They also have island boar here (inoshishi, or イノシシ)! Check it out:
2. Sata Andagi
Sata Andagi are Okinawan doughnuts that I had almost every single day I was in Okinawa, omg. They were so good!! And so filling!
Sata andagi are fried dough donuts that come in many different flavors. Beyond the original, plain flavor, you can find coconut, purple potato, brown sugar, black sesame, and more! We saw lots of carts selling these to eat on the spot, and even saw them in souvenir shops, vacuum sealed in bags. It is hard to beat these fresh though…
My favorite sata andagi store is pictured above, found on the upper floor of the Makishi Fish Market. There is another shop that is found to the left of this one, and while their sata andagi aren’t bad (we tried them as well), the ones at this shop somehow warmed our hearts even more:
3. Soki Soba
Soki soba is another Okinawan specialty!
It is basically soba (soba usually means buckwheet noodles, but I believe the soba in Okinawa is made of wheat) with some extra pizzazz. Soki means boneless pork ribs, usually pretty fatty in my opinion. Other standard toppings include fish cake, ginger strips, and chopped scallions.
My favorite soki soba bowl was the one we had during our kayaking and hiking tour on Iriomote, as ween above! It was prepared by our tour guide (and maybe pre-prepared a bit by somebody else in the morning? his partner or relative maybe?). Sitting under the waterfall, a little chilly from the breeze and spray, a warm bowl of noodles was exactly what I needed! <3
4. Blue Seal Ice Cream
This again falls more into the dessert side of food types, but I do love ice-cream. :) Blue Seal is a Japanese company that was created in 1948 to provide American style ice-cream to the US soldiers stationed in Okinawa. It has since then grown to become an icon of Okinawa!
While the ice cream itself is alright, it’s the flavors that are worth checking out! You can try Okinawan specific flavors, like Beni-imo (Okinawan sweet potato), or Okinawan Salt Cookies (flavored after a popular souvenir snack from Okinawa). I tried both of them, pictured below!
I am going to preface this by saying that I am not the strongest drinker… I am a super taster whose throat and tongue burns through most alcohol. I can usually taste the alcohol above any sugary mixture it’s been diluted with. That being said…
Awamori is a strong drink (~70 proof) distilled from rice. It’s usually drank watered down among ice cubes, which is how I tried it… But it still had to much of a kick for me. Good thing I only ordered one glass!
The interesting thing about Awamori is that in some places, you can get it served in a clay vessel, with a small clay ball that rolls around the bottom. :) I didn’t like it enough to go in search of that experience, however.
Natural Cafe Niffera にふぇーら
This was not really an “Okinawa” food, but rather a place that happened to be near our AirBnB in Naha, but I LOVED this place. It’s a vegan cafe run by a foreign pro-wrestler who moved to Okinawa and decided to start a cafe!
If you are in any way tired of crowds, traffic, or anything, this place is a little dream come true. Surrounded by plants,
While we did not have the best taco rice experience, it’s worth a try if you are trying to hit up all your hallmark Okinawan food experiences.
It is basically a marriage of tacos and Japanese cuisine. This was also a product of US Military troop influence on Japanese culture.
What you get is taco-spiced ground beef served on a bed of rice, and topped with shredded lettuce, chopped tomatoes, and cheese. For those of us who have had decent tacos, this feels a bit lack-luster, but who knows if a different place would have blown us away more!
Alright! I think that is enough for now! :) As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, Okinawan food did not particularly wow me. It was similar to a lot of Japanese food we had tried, and also more expensive, due to Okinawa being an island series. I must say, however, that the one potentially homemade meal we had (the soki soba from our tour) was absolutely delicious, and had we experienced more homemade cooking, our experience may have been different.
And that’s a wrap! :)
Look out for more Okinawa goodies that I will slowly, but surely be churning out in the coming weeks!