October 1, 2017
The 10 Best Izakaya You Must Visit in Okinawa
A part of the joy of travelling is to eat something different and nice. Unless you are a terrible fussy eater, trying local food is a fun challenge. You don’t want to time and don’t want to make a bad choice. Here are the izakayas you will not regret in Okinawa!
1. Okinawa Kitchen Paikaji Okinawa Honten
Okinawa has it’s own dialect. Paikaji means Wind from the South in Okinawa. First, You will be welcomed by girls in Okinawa’s traditional Kimono. There are lots of tables and rooms for groups inside. Every table is filled with plates. BGM is Okinawa’s traditional exotic music. Sometimes you can see Live music bands and dancers.
They have all kinds of food you must try in Okinawa. Rafute is one of them. Pork is the only local meat you can get in Okinawa and this is how they do best. It is skin-on pork rib stewed in soy sauce and brown sugar. The originality of it is that Awamori, Okinawa’s most known liquor, is used to cook in it. It is so soft and melts in your mouth. Goya and purple yam are also Okinawa originated vegetables and many dishes include them.
Paikaji also have over 70 different kinds of cocktails with Awamori, which is 30-43% alcohol. Yes you will get a kick for sure. Strictly no driving afterwards! All glasses are decorated with flowers and so pretty! Fantastic Okinawa experience guaranteed.
Name: Okinawa Kitchen Paikaji Okinawa Honten
Address: 4-8-26 Omoromachi, Naha, Okinawa
Opening hours: 17:00 – 1:30 am
Yunangi is a simple Izakawaya you can pop in anytime. Nothing fancy but food is good. You will see some big jars of spices and pickles lined up on the counter. There are tales but also a stretch of bar counter for small groups.
Yunangi is open for lunch as well us evening meal. Their signature is Okinawa Soba. Soba is a kind of noodles made of buckwheat flour. They are darker than egg or rice noodles. Soba in Yunangi comes in a soup full of Okinawa flavors and vegetables. A lot of dishes contain a vegetable called Goya. Goya is very bitter and has bumpy skin. You need to cook it in a way the bitterness will be tasty. That’s what is done there. This is a place for someone who wants to taste a bit of Okinawa food. If you really want to go for a full experience of Okinawa homey food, evening would be recommended.
It is located just around a corner from Naha Kokusai Dori Shopping Street, one of the mail tourist attractions in Okinawa. Fun place to hang out for shopping lovers!
Address: 3-3-3 Kumoji, Naha, Okinawa
Opening hours: 12:00–15:00 / 17:30– 22:30
Closed: Sundays and national holidays
3. Okinawa Cuisine Chinuman Onnason Moon Beach-mae Bettei
Chinuman is a chain and each branch is slightly different. One thing in common is that they have the best plate of Sashimi. The volume is amazing. There are dishes with meat but this is a place for fish lovers. Also you must try Sea Grapes. It is called Green Caviar but it is a kind of plant. When you bit it the beads pop just like caviar.
Chinuman in Onnason plays Live music every day. You will hear Okinawa‘s tune of music everywhere you go. It’s nothing like any other kind. It’s probably because of the sound of Japanese guitar called Shamisen. Not only old people but young generation is passionate about this kind of music.
This Chinuman is located near Mon Beach. You can walk there through a public path next to a dive shop. Also you can walk onto the sea walking down the pier to see a beautiful sunset before or after the meal.
Name: Okinawa Cuisine Chinuman Onnason Moon Beach-mae Bettei
Address: 1F 523-2 Maeganeku, Onnason, Okinawa
Opening hours: 17:00– 24:30
4. Ryukyu Dining Kamesennin Kumoji-ten
Ryukyu is another name for Okinawa area. Its aquarium is amazing but so is this Izakaya. In Kamesennen, you will be welcomed by 6m water tank. Perfect restaurant to entertain little children. The ceiling is covered with fish net and blue lights. Drinks come in different bright colors. You will feel like you are under the water.
The price is very reasonable considering their fish dishes are absolutely amazing. Their signature is Ikura- Salmon roe, also called red caviar. You just can’t believe so much Ikura on a plate!
There are more than 200 seats and a party up to 80 people can be booked. So it is always noisy. Not for people who want a quiet night out.
Kamesennin is very family friendly. It is lively and spacious so that you will feel your children are welcomed. There are a lot of dishes children would love on the menu. The dessert menu is fab. Strawberry pancake is highly recommended for sweet-loving children.
Kamesennenn is always busy. If you cannot get in they will give you a discount ticket for your return. You can get coupons from hotels and magazines so watch out. You can book a table in advance.
Name: Ryukyu Dining Kamesennin Kumoji-ten
Address: 3F Daiichi-Kumoji Building 3-12-1 Kumoji, Naha, Okinawa
Opening hours: 17:00– 1:00am
5. Poca a Poca Chatan-ten
Located alongside Araha Beach, this nearly new stylish restaurant called Poco a Poco has been very popular among young people. It looks like a resort hotel but is a posh Izakaya. The interior reminds me some hotels in South Asia. It has beautiful ocean view through the large windows.
Main is Okinawa cuisine, but Poco a Poco offers some western cuisine with a twist. Perfect fine dining for young couples. You can take up All-you-can-eat-and –drink offer for both lunch and dinner. Standard plan allow you to stay for 3 hours. Brilliant! There are more than 40 dishes to choose from. And that includes quality Wagyu beef dish as well.
It is near American Village which is one of my favorite places in Okinawa. Shopping is amazing there. Movie theatre, big wheels and lots of amusements; lots of fun. Night time recommended. It’s livelier and more fun.
Name: Poca a Poca Chatan-ten
Address: 2-16-7 Chatan-cho, Nakazami-gun, Okinawa
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Chura-Hana is located right next to Okinawa Sun Coast Hotel. It is a simple restaurant. I like the wooden structure. It is very spacious, not like crowded Izakaya in town. It is open for lunch and offers variety of set menu. If you go there for lunch, try Soba. Soba is good but the soup is very good. It’s made of spring water and salt from Okinawa and very organic. Soba is home-made so they are as fresh as they can be.
Izakaya time starts at 17:00. Menu includes lots of A la carte of Okinawa cuisine. The collection of Awamori ,Okinawa’s signature liquor, is fantastic. You will be amazed how many kind of Awamori, are produced in Okinawa. Someone said there are over 70 different brands. And they are beautifully mixed with local fruity flavors and come in beautiful colors in glasses.
If you are not staying in that area, you need a car or taxi to get there. If you want to get away from crowded town to enjoy Izakaya food, this is the place.
Address: 111-1 Kouki, Nago, Okinawa
Opening hours: 11:00– 23:00
Machinu means Pine in Okinawa dialect. You can smell the pine as you walk in Machinuya. Tables, Chairs, walls: everything is made of Pine trees grown in Okinawa. The owner has made the restaurant by himself, both inside and outside. It’s absolutely fantastic. The color of pine goes so well with Okinawa’s colorful food and drinks.
This place has been popular, not only for visitors but also for locals. That’s why it’s always crowded. It’s difficult to book even during the week. Once you’ve been there you will know why. You feel so comfortable and feel at home.
It has everything Okinawa can offer on the menu. You cannot resist the smell and feel like ordering more and more dishes. Their signature is “Ikasumi”- squid ink. It is a big part of Okinawa cuisine. You can enjoy Ikasumi flavor in many plates at Machinuya. The staffs are very friendly and helpful. Try something new!
Address: 2-7-14 Maejima, Naha, Okinawa
Opening hours: 17:30– 24:00
Kizakura is a place where you stop by with a friend or two, or maybe on your own, when you feel like you want to eat something tasty. This Izakaya is very retrospective and quaint, not for a large group I’m afraid.
Not many on the menu but all tasty. This is a place to drink more than eat. At the counter, you will see old locals sipping Awamori with a few plates of food, talking to the master about the day. It looks like a scene from an old movie. So cool.
It is located near busy part of town but not known by tourists. There are some tables upstairs so that you can go with your friends and small groups.
Otsumami means snacks you eat with drinks. Misoppi is their original Otsumami and this so goes well with Awamori. Its fried peanuts with Miso flavor. You can buy it at supermarkets as well. Worth trying!
Address: 3-12-21 Makishi, Naha, Okinawa
Opening hours: 18:00– 23:00
Closed: Wednesdays and Sundays
Nakamuraya is another Izakaya with full of Local people. Nothing too fancy attracting tourists but the food is absolutely beautiful and the price is reasonable. You can see all fish on ice before being cooked inside the restaurant. So you know how fresh you Sashimi would be.
Don’t forget to order Today’s special if you are a big fan of fish. Their signature is deep fried fish called “Nakamuraage. You can eat it as it is, or with a pinch of salt, or dip it in their original sauce.
It looks like a normal house from outside and is very simple inside as well. Just like you are having dinner at home. The staffs are very friendly and make you feel even more at home. If you like beer, try icy-cold Orion Beer. It is the most popular beer at Nakamuraya.
Address: 3-15-2 Kumoji, Naha, Okinawa
Opening hours: 17:00– 24:00
Closed: Sundays and national holidays
10. Koshu & Ryukyu-Ryori Urizun
Urizun is an Izakaya with principles. All dishes are Okinawa originals and not typical Japanese cuisine. So the menu is limited but every dish is great. They use local ingredients to make the food very fresh and the presentation is fantastic. Their signature is Eddoe Croquette. Eddoe is a kind of potatoes but more slimy. Eddoe is mixed with fish, pork and Japanese mushrooms. Absolutely delicious!
Urizun looks very rustic. Its wooded structure and interior bring up such authentic feeling. It is also well-know with the owner’s collection of “Kusu” – aged Awamori. The history of Awamori is very long. Okinawa used to have good collection of vintage Awamori –Kusu,but most was destroyed during WWII.
People started drinking whiskey brought by Americans after the war but the owner started making Awamori soon after and re-establish the history of Awamori. Some people call it Okinawa brandy. That’s why this place has been loved by locals for years.
“Kusu Inoguchi” is highly recommended by the master.
Name: Koshu & Ryukyu-Ryori Urizun
Address: 388-5, Asato, Naha, Okinawa
Opening hours: 17:30- 24:00
Let’s enjoy exotic Izakaya experience in Okinawa!
So what do you think? Izakaya is the best place to try unfamiliar food out. It’s not like you order one from the menu to eat. A portion of a dish is very small so that you can order different dishes. Okinawa cuisine is different from typical Japanese one. You may be surprised to hear what the ingredients are, to be honest. Ultimately, it’s tasty and that’s what food is all about. The smell, the color, the taste and the conversation with the friendly staffs will stay with you forever!