July 13, 2017
The Best 10 Places to Eat in Okinawa, Japan
Okinawa has its own distinctive food culture. If you want to enjoy a trip to Okinawa, you will surely want to taste their local foods as well, won’t you? But you may think, “What are they?” or “Where should I go?” So, here are the recommended shops for the ultra-delicious Okinawa gourmets. It would be the waste of so many chances, if you only eat meals at a restaurant in a hotel. You will be enthralled, if you taste the attractive flavors of the Okinawa foods, I’m certain.
1. Yanbaru Soba
The utmost food for Okinawa people is the “Okinawa buckwheat noodle”. You can enjoy it at a dining room or a food-court of a shopping mall crowded with the locals. It has a long history which is said to have come from China in the Ryukyu Dynasty Era.
Even though they are called the buckwheat noodles, they don’t contain the buckwheat flour. The soup-stock is based on the shaved dried bonito or the pork-bones. About 150 thousand portions are consumed every day in Okinawa. It is really a food for Okinawa people. Depending on which place, they are called differently, such as “Yaeyama Soba”, the “Miyako Soba” or the “Daito Soba”.
Amongst many Okinawa buckwheat noodle shops, I recommend the “Yanbaru Soba”. The shop has been using an old detached house with a charming atmosphere. The plain soup and the noodles which are firm but go down smoothly are matching very well.
They have been handed down from generation to generation since its opening. The most popular one is the “Soki-soba”. At lunch time, there is a queue every day, but it is worth standing in it.
Name: Yanbaru Soba
Address: 70-1 Izumi Motobu-cho Kunigami-county Okinawa-prefecture
Opening hours: 11:00 – until they are all sold out
Closed: Mondays & Tuesdays
2. Oden Todai
When it is bitterly cold in winter, you want to eat “Oden”, don’t you? Because “Oden” is a piping hot food. But the “Oden” in Okinawa is different from ones in other areas. Even though Okinawa has the image of an everlasting summer place, the temperature from December to February is around 17 ℃ at average. People eat the “Oden” throughout the year, not only during this period.
The “Okinawa Oden” contains “Tebichi” (pig leg) without fail. Besides it has komatsuna (Japanese mustard spinach), lettuce, mizuna(potherb mustard) and sausages.
When you fancy eating such an “Oden”, please visit the “Oden Todai” which is 60 years old. The creamy “Tebichi” after cooking for a long time is exquisite! It has a lot of collagen which is good news for ladies. At this shop, the “Yaki Tebichi” is also delicious and most customers order it.
Name: Oden Todai
Address: c/o Ooe Biru 1F 388-8 Asato Naha-city Okinawa-prefecture
Opening hours: 21:30 – 4:00am (following day)
Closed: Sundays & Mondays
3. Steak House 88
Compared to other prefectures, there are overwhelmingly many steak shops in Okinawa. Because Okinawa used to be under the American control, there are many long established steak shops. In Okinawa, the closing food of the day is not ramen, is not buckwheat noodles, but the steak!
The “Steak House 88” which opened in 1955 is recommended to both people who drink and who don’t drink. The attraction of this shop is the variety of the steak. Starting with the T-bones and the Tender Loin steak, there is the Agu pork and the Hamburger in the menu. Each menu is coming with the soup, the salad, the rice or the toast.
They have local foods such as the Goya Chanpuruu, the Sea grapes and the Island radish. The head shop is located in Tsuji in the Naha-city and another shop is along the busiest street, the Kokusai Street in the Naha-city. You can enjoy shopping at the same time before or after your meal there.
Name: Steak House 88 Kokusaidori-shop
Address: c/o Benkyodo Biru 2F 3-1-6 Makishi Naha-city Okinawa-prefecture
Opening hours: 11:00 – 23:00
Closed: open every day
4. Nakamoto Sengyo Tempura Shop
Okinawa holds 99% of the production of mozuku (seaweed) in Japan. Mozuku gives us the image of vinegary food, but in Okinawa, it is used for the miso-soup, the salad or the tempura. Amongst them Mozuku-tempura is handy, so it is popular with both locals and visitors.
The Ou Island in the Nanjo-city on the southern part of Okinawa is famous for gathering mozuku. The Island is connected with the Main Island by the bridge. So, you can easily get there. The tempura in Okinawa has the thick batter with a flavor. You don’t need to dip in anything. It is crispy outside and fluffy inside. The sweet taste of mozuku spreads out in your mouth.
There are many tempura shops on the Ou Island, but the “Nakamoto Sengyo Tempura-shop” is recommended. One tempura costs ￥65. Even on weekdays, there is a queue in front of the shop. But it is worth visiting. They have other tempuras such as aasa, squid and umukuji (red potato) .
Name: Nakamoto Sengyo Tempura-shop
Address: 9 Ou Aza Tamagusuku Nanjo-city Okinawa-prefecture
Opening hours: 10:00 – 18:00
Closed: open every day
5. Ajidokoro Marunaga
Okinawa food culture contains various soups such as the miso-soup, the nakami-soup( various ingredients), yagi-soup(goat), irabuu-soup(snake), abasaa-soup(spiky fish) and aasa-soup(seaweed). Amongst them, recently the “hone-jiru” (bone-soup) has been advertised by the media. Then it has drawn attention from other prefectures.
In the past, the pork-bones which were used for making noodle-soup were thrown away after making the soup-stock. But some people thought that it would be waste of a precious thing. Then the “hone-jiru” was created. Nowadays, each shop has its original “hone-jiru”. So it may be interesting to compare the flavors.
Please visit the “Ajidokoro Marunaga” to taste their “hone-jiru”. There are softly cooked pork-bones, the lettuce and some ground ginger in the soup. Don’t be frightened by its look. They only offer 20 portions per day. So, it’s better to arrive there before they open the shop.
Name: Ajidokoro Marunaga
Address: 13-10 Kaiho-cho Okinawa-city Okinawa-prefecture
Opening hours: 10:00 – 21:00
Closed: no time set
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The “Sataandaagi” is broadly well-known as an Okinawa souvenir. “Sata” means sugar, “anda”means oil and “agii” means frying. As the name shows it is a fried sugary sweet. You can enjoy it during your Okinawa-trip as a snack. The use-by date is 10 days, so it is just right for a souvenir.
If you go to the Daiichi Makishi Public Market, please pop into the “Ayumi-no-Sataandaagii” on the 2nd floor. It is cooked with flour, sugar egg-yolk, milk and peanut-butter as a secret flavor. It has a plain taste that won’t really get you tired of. As it is a famous shop, they will close the shop when all are sold out. You need to visit there at an earlier time!
Address: 2-10-1 Matsuo Naha-city Okinawa-prefecture
Opening hours: 10:00 – until they are sold out
7. King Takosu
The “Tako-rice” which Okinawa people love can’t be seen in any other places apart from Okinawa. Because it was developed according to the characteristic of the area. Mr. Katsuzo Gibo who was the founder of the “Parlor Senri” first created it in 1984 in Kin-cho in the middle of the main Island.
The American Base, Camp Hansen was near the “Parlor Senri”, so he wanted to offer a cheap and substantial food to the soldiers. He got the clue from Takosu which was popular among them. He put Takosu ingredients on the top of the rice. This “Tako-rice” spread about in the entire Okinawa prefecture.
Unfortunately, the “Parlor Senri” was closed down in 2015. The “King Takosu” has been following the original flavor. It has branches in various places in the middle part of the main Island. The head-shop is in the Kin-cho. The “Takosu” at this shop is substantial, so please visit there with an empty stomach! You can ask for a take-out as well.
Name: King Takosu Kin-cho Honten
Address: 4244-4 Kin Aza Kin-cho Kokuzu-county Okinawa-prefecture
Opening hours: 10:03 – 1:00 am (following day)
Closed: open every day
8. Oshokujidokoro Mikado
Generally speaking, the “Chanpon” makes us imagine the famous noodle cuisine “Nagasaki Chanpon”. In Okinawa, the “Chanpon” comes with some rice! It has the stir-fried vegetables with the beaten eggs on the rice. Various kinds of vegetables, the sliced pork or pork-luncheon-meat are richly flavored with the beaten eggs.
If you want to taste the substantial amount of rice with also the substantial amount of toppings, please visit the “Oshokujidokoto Mikado”. They use hashed corned beef instead. The shop is open for 24 hours, so you can visit whenever you are hungry! It is crowded with the locals, but visitors are also very welcome!
Name: Oshokujidokoro Mikado
Address: 1-3-18 Matsuyama Naha-city Okinawa-prefecture
Opening hours: 24 hours
Closed 1st – 3rd January & during the Bon Festival
9. Kishimoto Shokudo Honten
“Juicy” means the Okinawa-styled seasoned boiled rice with various ingredients. The cooking method is very simple. The rice with the thinly sliced carrot, mushroom and sliced pork is boiled together in the pork soup-stock. Depending on shops, the flavors, the ingredients and softness of rice differ. It may be interesting to try a few of them and compare them.
You can try the “Juicy” at the famous Okinawa buckwheat noodle shop, the “Kishimotoshokudo Honten”. It has been a long-established shop which opened in 1905. They only have 3 menus, such as the Okinawa buckwheat noodles large or small and the “Juicy”. Their “Juicy” has a bit of sweet taste and has the pork, the shiitake-mushrooms and the leak. The “Juicy” is limited to 100 portions. Please be aware of it!
Name: Kishimotoshokudo Honten
Address: 5 Toguchi Motobu-cho Kunigami-county Okinawa-prefecture
Opening hours: 11:00 – until all are sold out
10. Fujiya Tomari Honten
Usually, the “Zenzai” is a warm sweet, but in Okinawa, it is a cool sweet in summer! It has been developed from the cool sweet which was made in Taiwan and Eastern Asia, using the mung beans. Later on, the Okinawa-zenzai started, using the red kidney beans, the rolled barleys which were easy to obtain and it was offered with the shaved-ice.
This sweet has been long lived in Okinawa. There are many Zenzai specialist shops. The Okinawa-zenzai has the brown sugar, the boiled red kidney beans with sugar, the rice flour dumpling and the abundant shaved-ice on the top. Some of them have some ice-cream or fruits as the toppings.
The Okinawa-zenzai at the “Fujiya Tomari Honten” has the lightly boiled sweet beans, the small rice flour dumplings and the shaved-ice made from the frozen bean soup. They are all matching very well. They also have a food menu such as the Tako-rice and the noodles with 3 slices of meat. You can have the “Okinawa-zenzai” after the meal there.
Name: Fujiya Tomari Honten
Address: 2-10-9 Tomari Naha-city Okinawa-prefecture
Opening hours: 11:00 – 21:00
Closed: at the end & the beginning of the year
Let’s Taste Delicious Foods in Okinawa!
Have you found any interesting food for you? They are actually, just a sample of the Okinawa cuisines. It could be hard to visit those shops during your limited schedule, but please choose 1 or 2 shops and taste their foods. Even if there is a long queue, please be patient. You may want to tell about your adventure to someone after experiencing such different tastes. They are all Okinawa’s proud shops.