In Okinawa, a popular sightseeing destination, there are various famous dishes loved by locals and tourists alike. Here are 5 of them to consider.
1. Okinawa soba
Okinawa soba is a classic Okinawan dish. There are more than 300 specialty restaurants within the prefecture, and the total Okinawa soba consumption per day in Okinawa is actually more than 150,000 bowls! It is a dish beloved by Okinawans. Unlike Japanese soba, they use noodles made of wheat flour, salt, and Iye water. Usually soup is made from broth of tonkotsu (pork bones) or katsuobushi (bonito flakes), but there are a variety available depending on the region. Standard toppings are boned rib, kamaboko (boiled fish paste), and green onion. Some restaurants have toppings such as soki (pork rib meat), tebichi (pork legs), and fuchiba (wormwood).
2. Chanpuru dishes
This is one of Okinawan dishes known nationally throughout Japan. "Chanpuru" is an Okinawan dialect for "mix together," and is a general term for dishes of mixed ingredients which are stir-fried together. On menus of restaurants or izakaya (informal Japanese gastropub) , they have dishes such as somin chanpuru (Okinawan dialect for somen, white Japanese noodles made of wheat flour) or seitan chanpuru, with the name of ingredients used in the dish indicated before the word "chanpuru". Especially famous is goya chanpuru. It is a dish of stir-fried goya (bitter gourd, a traditional Okinawan vegetable), tofu, egg, spam or pork, and such, and the unique bitterness of goya sharpens your appetite.
Rafute, a local Okinawan dish, originated from Dongpo pork, a pork dish in China. The dish was brought to the Ryukyu kingdom, currently Okinawa, and became one of the court dishes. It is a dish of a block of pork simmered in broth made from awamori, an Okinawan liquor, with brown sugar and soy sauce. By using awamori which has a high alcohol percentage, the meat becomes so soft that you can cut it using only chopsticks. Pork with a lot of fat is used for the dish, but the excessive fat is cut by preparatory boiling and then simmering for a long time. It has a light taste with plenty of umami. Of course it goes perfect with awamori, so why not try it at an izakaya?
4. Taco Rice
Taco rice, born in Okinawa and spread all over Japan, is a dish which can be called the Japanese version of tacos. It is a hearty menu with hot rice topped with spicy taco meat, cheese, lettuce, tomato, and other toppings. In Okinawa it is a loved dish even appears on school lunch menus. You can have it in restaurants and cafes within the prefecture, and also purchase taco rice mix at souvenir stores as well as supermarkets. There is pre-made taco meat available so you can easily enjoy the taste of Okinawa even after you come home.
5. Sata Andagi
Sata andagi is a traditional Okinawan confection. In the dialect of certain region in the prefecture, "sata" means sugar, "anda" means oil, and "agi" means fry or tempura. As its name shows, it is a fried doughnut-like confection made with lots of sugar. It has been loved as a good luck confection in Okinawa, since the round dough splits when fried and looks like a flower in bloom. The dough is dense and is very filling! Outside it is crispy and inside it has a moist texture. It is sold in various places from souvenir stores to cafes, so try it whenever you feel like it.
Eating delicious food is one of the pleasures of taking a trip. Stuff yourself with local dishes and fully enjoy the charms of Okinawa.
*Please note that the information in this article is from the time of writing or publication and may differ from the latest information.
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