Okinawa is one of the most popular destinations in Japan that draws in both domestic and foreign tourists. Thanks to its location, Okinawan food and culture has developed very differently from what is considered ‘Japanese’. Once the independent Ryukyu Kingdom, the food here has been heavily influenced by China, Korea, some Southeast Asian countries, and even America. Here are some of the best restaurants in Okinawa showcasing local Okinawan cuisine!
1. Taco Rice Café Kijimuna
One of the most famous Okinawan dishes is taco rice, which came about as a result of the post-World War II American presence here. It consists of the typical taco ingredients such as ground beef, cheese, salsa and salad, served over white rice. You’ll find it in many restaurants in Okinawa, but Taco Rice Café serves the omutaco, a combination of omurice and taco rice. You can also customize your omutaco with toppings such as avocado, teriyaki chicken, cheese, bacon and more!
2. Kishimoto Shokudo
With a history dating back to 1905, Kishimoto Shokudo is a long-standing Okinawan soba restaurant. If you’re looking to try some authentic Okinawan soba, this is the place to go. Expect traditional toppings such as slices of rafute (Okinawan style braised pork belly), kamaboko (fish cake) and green onions. An extremely popular stall, do expect a line. We assure it’s worth the wait!
For a taste of Okinawa home-style dishes such as goya champuru (bitter melon), jyusi (Okinawa rice porridge), and tebichi (stewed pig trotters), Yunangii is your go-to. The specialty is rafute (stewed pork ribs) and they taste just like how warm hugs should taste. Appreciate Japanese spirits? Then you have to make sure to also try some awamori, Okinawa’s local distilled alcohol.
Kou is a must for meat lovers. Try Okinawan specialties such as Kume Island chicken, Okinawan beef and Aguu pork. Kin Aguu is a hybrid species and high quality pork raised in Okinawa. It is extremely rare to get a pure-blooded Aguu pig, and this is one of the few places where you can try it out! Have it with a shabu shabu hotpot that you cook yourself at your table. You can also try jimami tofu and umibudo here. Known as sea grapes or ‘green caviar’, These strands are covered with salty tiny bubbles which pop in your mouth.
5. Ryukyu Cuisine Mie
This beautiful restaurant perfectly recalls the Ryukyu Kingdom and its cuisine. Through traditional design, tableware and authentic multi-course meals, diners get a glimpse into the feasts of the olden days. Each dish is lovingly and painstakingly prepared, and the end result is something that is just as much food as it is art. Prices are definitely on the higher side, but it is a one-of-a-kind dining experience that you won’t get anywhere else.