There are so many parts in Japan which are interesting to visit. You might have been to Tokyo the bustling city, or you might have been to rich-in-nature Hokkaido. But how about Okinawa, the southernmost prefecture?
Because of its geographical location, Okinawa has its own unique culture. Surrounded by the ocean, you might guess that Okinawa is only the home of fresh seafood. Yet, the Prefecture has so much more than that.
Okinawa offers some unique foods that you can only find in the island. It’s because of the complex history that the island is much influenced by the Chinese culture. Fusion foods, which are mixed between Eastern and Western cultures, are available there. But of course, it still retains authentic Japanese flavours and elements.
Here are 8 Okinawa foods you must try when you visit there:
1. Umibudo or sea grape
We’ve talked about it before, and the food seems like the signature food from Okinawa. Umibudo, which actually is a seaweed, can be added to common dishes like sashimi and soba. It’s ocean fresh, and a little bit salty. They have many health benefits, too. Thus, don’t forget to try Umibudo when you are in Okinawa!
2. Goya Champuru
It’s the signature dish of Okinawa (pictured)! The prefecture cuisines are mostly stir-fry dishes. They often cook with “Champuru” style, which means to simply mix everything. While “Goya” is bitter green gourd from Southeast Asia that became the island’s favourite vegetable.
Enjoy Goya Champuru with various ingredients such as luncheon meat, deep-fried tempura, pork, eggs and tofu. It’s the perfect comfort food in Okinawa’s steamy summer.
3. Salt ice cream
An ice cream with salty taste seems like an awful idea. But this soft serve from Okinawa won’t disappoint you at all. The ice cream is still sweet, but it actually contains snow salt from Miyako Island in Okinawa.
There are loads of varieties complimentary toppings. From hibiscus, matcha, to wasabi. The salt crystals might surprise you with initial kick, yet this one-of-a-kind soft serve is very refreshing!
4. Okinawa Soba
Of course, Okinawa has its own signature noodles. Although they use “soba” (buckwheat noodles) as its name, Okinawa soba is actually thick wheat noodles that more akin to that of the traditional udon.
The noodles are a little bit chewy but firm. It has clear soup made with pork, seaweed, and vegetables. In addition, there are bonito fish flakes as well as konbu (kelp) on the dish. You should try it at least once in a lifetime!
As an independent island, Okinawa is surprisingly popular for its wide variety of pork and beef. They even have mimigaa (shredded pig’s ear) and chiragaa (skin from the pig’s face) for those adventurous people.
Luckily, most people can enjoy Rafute, which is pork belly simmered in soy sauce and then glazed with brown sugar. It has sweet and savoury taste at the same time. Hence it melts in your mouth. It’s incredibly delicious to eat on its own, or as a topping for Okinawa soba.
6. Sata Andagi
Okinawa’s local donut! It’s made of the usual flour, eggs and sugar, but it’s shaped into balls. It’s also deep-fried, yet it remains soft on the inside. The name “sata andagi” literally means “deep-fried sugar”. The best time to eat Sata Andagi is when it’s fresh out of the fryer.
It’s a shortbread cookie which is a traditional Okinawan treat. Chinsuko use lard instead of butter, making it special and tasty.
8. Yagi sashimi
Sashimi usually made of fresh fish. But this one is raw goat meat instead. Of course, the meal has strong flavour and rather chewy. Do you dare to eat it? Your choice.
Which one do you want to try the most? Leave a comment below.