Due its subtropical climate, Okinawa has developed a unique food culture that uses different ingredients to the mainland. Here in this article we are going to introduce some great restaurants in Okinawa where you can enjoy traditional Okinawa dishes.
Ryukyusabo Ashibiunaa is a restaurant located close to Shuri Castle where you can enjoy traditional Okinawa food in an old Ryukyu-style house surrounded by nature. Loved by the locals, the restaurant offers a varied menu made with local Okinawan ingredients, such as purple yam fry (530 JPY (tax excl.)), squid ink noodles yakisoba (lunch: 700 JPY (tax excl.), evening: 750 JPY (tax excl.)), or the Chuzan Daiichi Gozen (2,000 JPY (tax excl.)) set meal of traditional Okinawan dishes. They also offer a full lunch menu, and if you have the chance to visit during a break in your sightseeing, we recommend the Soki soba (720 JPY (tax excl.)), which with its lightly flavored soup that goes well with the thick noodles, and stewed meat topping, makes it an exquisite dish. On some nights, they also have a live sanshin (Okinawan stringed instrument) performance as well, which is well worth seeing!
1. Enjoy the food in an old Ryukyu-style house - “Ryukyusabo Ashibiunaa”
If you’re looking to experience real Okinawan food and music, “Traditional Song "Shimauta" and Ryukyu Food - Chatan Dining” is the place to come. For lunch, you can enjoy a set meal made with local ingredients from a very reasonable 750 JPY, and in the evenings, they offer a variety of Okinawan dishes that you can enjoy with some koshu, a drink made by maturing Okinawa’s traditional spirit awamori. These include the “Ishigaki Beef and Agu Pork assortment” (4,000 JPY) for barbecue and the “Rafute pork” (750 JPY), and the “Okinawa Oden” (680 JPY). You can also find some other rarer specialties on the menu, so if you go, we recommend ordering all sorts of different things. During the traditional Shimauta live concerts held daily from 7:00 pm to 8:00 pm the atmosphere in the restaurant is fantastic, and with the spectacular view of the sea, your time at the restaurant is sure to become one of the many great memories of your trip.
2. Traditional Song "Shimauta" and Ryukyu Food - “Chatan Dining”
At Aun, you can enjoy both Okinawan dishes and the restaurant’s own original recipes made with Okinawan ingredients. The slightly dark interior gives it an atmosphere similar to an izakaya. Aun offers a menu of about 70 dishes made with organic vegetables from contracted farms and other select ingredients. They also offer sashimi and sushi as well, but if you can’t decide about what to order, we recommend the Tezukuri Guruguru Wiener (handmade wrapped wiener; 780 JPY (tax excl.)), a sausage made with Okinawan brand agu pigs raised in shop’s own farm, or the Ikasumi Somen Chanpuruu (rice noodles stir-fried with squid ink; 580 JPY (tax excl.)) which is particularly popular for its rich taste of squid ink. They also offer a wide variety of awamori (the traditional spirit of the Ryukyu Islands made from rice), making this a great place to enjoy both the food and drink of Okinawa.
Ryukyu Ishokuya Kaigyu is an izakaya where you can enjoy traditional Okinawan dishes as well as shabu shabu (a popular Japanese dish where thinly cut slices of meat are quickly cooked in water and eaten with your choice of sauce) with locally produced wagyu beef and pork. The interior of the restaurant is divided into individual booths with tables and hori-gotatsu, so you can enjoy your meal without having to worry about bothering the other guests at the restaurant.
In addition to typical Okinawan cuisine such as goya chanpuru, a type of bitter melon stir fry (594 JPY (tax incl.)), and gurukun-no-karaage, deep-fried rock fish (638 JPY (tax incl.)), there is also a wide variety of other dishes such as sushi, sashimi, Okinawan brand Ishigaki beef and agu pork steak that you can enjoy. The 3,500 JPY (tax incl.) 3 hour shabu shabu course (for three people or more, requires prior reservation) which includes all-you-can-drink, you can enjoy some delicious selected beef and pork shabu shabu, as well as any of the approximately 70 dishes on the menu at a very reasonable price. There are a number of other shabu shabu courses where you can enjoy other rare brands of beef, so be sure to choose whichever takes your fancy.
4. Ryukyu Ishokuya Kaigyu
If you’re sightseeing in Okinawa, one thing you really have to try is the Okinawa soba. As a dish, Okinawa soba is closer to ramen than to typical Japanese soba. One of the best places to enjoy this local dish is at Shurei Soba to Okinawa Ryori. Popular with the locals, this restaurant offers around 30 different types of Okinawa soba, in addition to a variety of set meals and other dishes. If it’s your first time there, we recommend ordering the Uchina Soba (middle size: 680 JPY (tax incl.), the standard Okinawa soba, the Hon Sooki Soba (middle size: 750 JPY (tax incl.), which comes with a large pork spare rib on top, or the house special Shurei Soba (middle size: 710 JPY (tax incl.)). The soup is made with a pork bone base, and comes in three types: plain, thick and katsuobushi flavored. The noodles are also available in two types: hard noodles and soft handmade noodles. You can choose the type of soup and noodles to suit your tastes. We also recommend the Juushii rice cooked in soup (180 JPY (tax incl.)). Every day from midday live performances of Shimauta, the traditional songs from the Nansei islands, are held at the restaurant, so if you’re in the area at that time, be sure to go and enjoy the music!
5. Shurei Soba to Okinawa Ryori
In Okinawa, there are many fantastic restaurants offering delicious meals made with fresh, select local ingredients including fish, vegetables, and meat, so be sure to include enjoying Okinawan cuisine on your plans for your trip!
*Please note that the prices and other information in the article may not be the most up-to-date information
*Please note that the information in this article is from the time of writing or publication and may differ from the latest information.