ost of us are foodies, especially when holidaying. Trying the different local cuisine when travelling to different parts of the world is one of the best ways to get to know the different cultures. Okinawan cuisine is quite different from the rest of Japan due to its unique history from the Ryukyu Kingdom, during which the food culture was influenced by China, Southeast Asia, Japan and the United States. The different climate here has also shaped the unique Okinawan cuisine.
Okinawa is home to the most centenarians in the world, living well over 100 years old and healthily. Some researchers believe that the unique diet found here is a key component. The traditional Okinawan dishes are deliciously prepared to be nutritionally balanced, typically low in calories and high in carbs, moderate in proteins but nutrient-rich. These dishes are usually rich in vegetables, soy products and seafood.
Here are some of the dishes we recommend you try on your Okinawa holiday, unique to Okinawa!
Though you can find soba in mainland Japan, Okinawa Soba is different and unique to Okinawa. It uses soba noodle made 100% from wheat flour, giving it a chewier and thicker texture.
Okinawa Soba is typically served with a lighter yet aromatic broth together with toppings of your choice - seaweed, pickled ginger, san-mai niku (three-layered pork) or sōki (slow-stewed pork spare ribs).
An iconic delicious dish of Okinawa, Chanpurū is a stir-fried dish that’s usually served with rice. It’s generally a combination of Japanese bitter melon (goya), egg, tofu, vegetables and some meat or fish.
Are you a lover for braised savoury pork that melts in your mouth? Apart from the numerous fresh variety of seafood, rafute is a classic Okinawan dish. It is braised pork belly cooked with awamori, a traditional rice liquor.
Rafute is a traditional dish since the Ryukyu Kingdom. Stewed to a soft tender with awamori, brown sugar & soy sauce, the thinly sliced sweet-and-spicy flavored meat simply melts in your mouth!
Umi budo (sea grape) is also sometimes referred to as green caviar. It is a kind of seaweed found in Okinawa. These tiny green sea grapes pops in your mouth and release a slightly salty taste of the sea with each bite. This breaking of these little bubbles is called puchi-puchi in Japanese. This addictive texture and flavour makes it a great snack with some Orion Beer.
Salt Ice Cream
Ice cream with salt? You heard right! This strange combination can be found in Okinawa, Yukishio Saltworks. Yukishio means snow salt (salt in powdery form) and it’s considered to be a healthy food locally, containing a variety of minerals.
There's a wide selection of funky flavours to choose from too - hibiscus, cocoa, pepper, black sesame, green tea, wasabi and many more! Our favourite is still the wasabi flavour, some wasabi kick mixed with the sweetness and saltiness.
Unique only to Okinawa, awamori is an alcoholic beverage made with kurokoji mold and long-grain Thai indica rice. It’s typically 30-43% alcohol and can also be drunk straight, on the rocks, or in cocktails. Awamori comes with a rich aroma and flavourful taste, perfect for enjoyment with an assortment of Okinawan dishes.
Intrigued to visit Okinawa and try these for yourself?
Check out our Okinawa Tour Packages: