April 24, 2017
The 10 Best Popular Snacks You Must Buy in Okinawa
Okinawa’s food culture is very unique even within Japan so here we’d like to introduce a selection of carefully picked exotic snacks and treats which are especially popular among locals. They are sure to be perfect for snacking on during your stay or take back as gifts for your families and friends.
1. Goya Chips
‘Goya’ otherwise known as bitter gourd is a very well-known vegetable in Okinawa, loaded with vitamin C. You can not possibly claim to have experienced Okinawan food culture without trying goya (bitter gourd). Whilst the most common way to eat goya (bitter gourd) is as an Okinawan stir fry dish, ‘Goya Champuru’, it can be quite filling. In such case, ‘Goya chips’ is the more convenient and casual way!
Made not to spoil the natural taste of goya, the chips are slightly bitter making them perfect appetizers for beer and ‘happoshu’ (Japanese low-malt beer). As a bonus, ‘Goya chips’ makes a great souvenir with a picture of Okinawa’s Mascot ‘Gocchan’ on it’s package! It can be easily found in places such as local supermarkets, convenience stores and even airports giving you lots of opportunities to give them a try!
Name: Goya Chips
Price: 4 Packets 800 yen
2. Mimiga Jerky
‘Mimiga’ is boiled or steamed pig’s ears seasoned in various flavors. Since it can rarely be found anywhere else other than Okinawa, it is also another must-eat cuisine. Whilst it is a classic dish served at ‘Izakaya’ (Japanese-style bar), now it can be eaten more casually as jerky!
The crunchy texture and slight tingle of spice caused by the red pepper makes ‘Mimiga Jerky’ the ideal snack to go along with your drink. And even better, there are various tastes such as ume (Japanese plum) and vinegared seaweed available as well!
Name: Mimiga Jerky
Price: 180 yen ～
3. Country Maam Okinawan Beni-Imo
Country Maam favored for the cookie’s crisp outsides and soft, half-baked-like fillings, offers Okinawa’s very own original taste using homegrown beni-imo also known as purple yam. The rich sweetness of the filling distinct to beni-imo (purple yam) goes well with coffee and tea but I recommend trying it with traditional Okinawan tea such as turmeric tea or sanpin tea to complete your Okinawan afternoon tea experience.
The cookies are individually wrapped and is packaged in a very Okinawan box with an Okinawan lion and beni-imo (purple yam) colorfully illustrated on it, making it the perfect souvenir for your family and friends!
Name: Country Maam Okinawan Beni-Imo
Price: 700yen～ (16 pieces per package)
4. Yukishio Fuwawa
‘Yukioshio’ refers to Miyako Island’s fine white powder salt rich in minerals. Various products using yukishio has become standard Okinawan souvenirs over the years. Although all products are really tasty, I especially recommend the meringue cookies, ‘Yukishio Fuwawa’.
The reason is it is so light it will melt as soon as you pop it in your mouth, leaving you to enjoy the mild taste of salt along with the sweetness.
‘Yukishio Fuwawa’ also comes in a variety of flavors such as coconut, mango, beni-imo (purple yam), chocolate, kokutou (brown sugar), strawberry as well as seasonal flavors. So if you can’t decide on a flavor, the assorted meringue cookies will not fail you!
Name: Yukishio Fuwawa
Distributor: Miyakojima no Yukishio
5. Orion Beer Jerky
Cooked with the yeast of Okinawa’s signature beer ‘Orion Beer’, it may be needless to say how well ‘Orion Beer Jerky’ goes with beer. But it’s not just the yeast but the robust flavoring of the Okinawan salt and pepper which makes the chewy gizzard jerky so addictive.
The blue sky and sea, along with a beer mug illustrated on the package probably also plays a part in giving an edge to one’s appetite. If you intend to just have a quick drink at your hotel room or on the plane back home, make sure to buy ‘Orion Beer Jerky’ to go along with your can of beer!
Name: Orion Beer Jerky
Distributor: Yuu Food
Whilst there are many snacks using beni-imo (purple yam) in Okinawa, rarely do you find one that is made of the Miyako Island’s brand yam ‘Chura Koiro’.
Sustaining Chura Koiro’s distinct bold sweetness and vibrant purple color, ‘Imonchu’ is a crispy purple snack which lets you indulge yourself in the rich sweetness that increases and spreads in your mouth with every bite.
It is shaped into a bite size dice so can be easily popped in your mouth when you crave for something while sightseeing. Also ‘Imonchu’ comes in a 6 bag set, ideal for bulk distributing back home!
Price: 864 yen
7. Okinawa Kokuto Pretzel
One of Okinawa’s representative ingredients is ‘kokuto’ also known as brown sugar, picked from sugarcanes drenched with sunlight. ‘Okinawa Kokuto Pretzel’ is a stick type snack made of such kokuto (brown sugar) and black syrup, remaining to be popular for as long as one can remember.
You may imagine it to be quite sweet when you hear kokuto (brown sugar) with black syrup but the sweetness is surprisingly mild with a hidden bitterness to it. Such mellow taste served in a crispy stick will sure to have you hooked!
Additionally, there are other flavors out such as “Okinawa Beni-Imo (purple yam flavor)” and “Okinawa Uma Shio (tasty salt flavor)”, so why not try them all? If you are lucky you may come across assorted versions in some stores too.
Name: Okinawa Kokuto Pretzel
Distributor: Kabaya Foods
Price: 100 yen
8. Chinsuko Chocolat
‘Chinsuko’ is Okinawa’s traditional confectionary similar to a shortbread. It’s popularity goes back to the Ryukyu dynasty era, and has remained to be the most chosen souvenir ever since.
Whilst there are various flavors and brands of chinsuko in the market, ‘Chinsuko Chocolat’ continues to be long hit seller, selling over 10 million per year. The reason for it’s popularity among not just the tourists but locals as well, is probably the well balanced taste of the mild sweet chinsuko and slightly bitter dark chocolate coating.
Also there are also a variety of flavors such as green tea or black cocoa and white chocolate which are offered for only a limited period. So it may be fun to compare their differences.
Name: Chinsuko Chocolat
Distributor: Fashion Candy
Price: 648 yen (12 piece per package)
9. Tenshi no Hane
‘Tenshi no Hane (Angel’s Wings)’ is a unique salt cracker with texture as light and fluffy as the product name implies. It was originally the left overs produced in the process of making salt crackers at a salt cracker specialty store but the unique and pleasant texture caught one’s eye to become one of Okinawa’s most favored snacks. You will sure to be surprised by the unexplainable texture of it, as the cracker instantly melts in your mouth.
Whilst it is great snack as it is, what makes it so appealing is that you can play around with it in so many ways. For example, you can mix it with rice to make it a newly textured rice ball, or float it in soup like crouton. Since it is so adaptable, you won’t get tired of eating it for a long time. Other than the plain salt flavor, ‘Tenshi no Hane’ comes in ume (Japanese plum) flavor so see which you prefer!
Name: Tenshi no Hane
Distributor: Maruyoshi Salt Senbei Store
Address: 4-11-19 Hantagawa, Naha-shi, Okinawa, Japan
Price: 216 yen
10. Sweet Pote-Riko
If you are looking for snacks to eat on the spot, ‘Sweet Pote-Riko’ is just for you! At Calbee Plus which is Japan’s leading potato chips manufacturer Calbee’s directly-managed store, you can enjoy freshly prepared fried snacks such as potato chips and ‘Pote-Riko’ (wedged potato snacks). Among the freshly prepared fried snacks, ‘Sweet Pote-riko’ is highly recommended because you can only try it at Okinawa Calbee Plus!
Made with Okinawa’s beni-imo (purple yam) and sweet potato, you will find ‘Sweet Pote-Riko’ to be somewhat sweet and streaming hot in the inside yet crispy on the outside thanks to being fried with 100% olive oil. Furthermore, there are other exclusive popular snacks made from domestic sweet potatoes and Okinawan kokuto (brown sugar) which make good souvenirs! So please don’t forget to drop by when sightseeing.
Name: Sweet Pote-Riko
Distributor: Calbee Plus Okinawa Kokusai Douri Store
Address: 3-2-2 Makishi, Naha-shi, Okinawa, Japan
Price: 310 yen
Let’s Enjoy Delicious Snacks in Okinawa!
So, here I have introduced you some popular snacks unique to Okinawa. They are also recommendable because they can all be easily bought at supermarkets, convenience stores or at the airport within Okinawa. So, whilst they make perfect souvenirs, I’m sure you will end up wanting them all for yourself upon tasting them. On that account, don’t forget to try and buy enough!