Discover the 10 Must-Eat Foods in Okinawa, Japan


Get ready to explore Okinawa’s mouthwatering delights! From marinated pork to tropical fruits, our list of 10 must-eat foods will take you on a culinary adventure in Japan’s southern paradise. Grab your chopsticks and savor the flavors of Okinawa today!

1. Goya Chanpuru


When it comes to Okinawan cuisine, Goya Chanpuru is a dish that cannot be missed. This unique stir-fry is a delightful blend of bitter melon, tofu, eggs, and sometimes even spam. The name “Goya Chanpuru” translates to “something mixed” in the local dialect, and it perfectly captures the essence of this dish.

The star ingredient, bitter melon, adds a distinct and slightly bitter flavor, which is balanced by the savory tofu and eggs. The addition of spam, a legacy of the island’s American military presence, gives the dish a touch of indulgence. Goya Chanpuru is not only delicious but also considered a summer essential in Okinawa, thanks to its refreshing and light qualities.

2. Okinawa Soba

Okinawa Soba


While the name may be deceiving, Okinawa Soba is not your typical soba dish. Unlike the buckwheat noodles commonly found in Japan, Okinawa Soba features thick and chewy wheat noodles that are bathed in a rich pork-based broth. The broth is infused with bonito flakes and kelp, adding depth and umami flavors.

The key topping for Okinawa Soba is soki, slow-cooked spareribs that are tender and succulent. The dish is often garnished with a sprinkle of ginger, which adds a refreshing kick. Okinawa Soba is a favorite among locals, and each Okinawan has their preferred soba spot. So, make sure to try this unique noodle dish during your visit to Okinawa.

3. Taco Rice


Prepare your taste buds for a surprising twist with Taco Rice, a dish that perfectly exemplifies Okinawa’s cultural blend. This Tex-Mex-inspired creation features spiced ground beef, cheese, salsa, and lettuce served on a bed of fluffy white rice.

Taco Rice is a testament to the island’s historical ties with the United States military. Introduced by American servicemen stationed in Okinawa, this dish quickly gained popularity and has become a local favorite. You can find Taco Rice at many Okinawan restaurants, and it has even made its way across Japan. It’s a must-try for those seeking a fusion delight in Okinawa.

4. Beni Imo


One of Okinawa’s most famous agricultural products is the vibrant purple sweet potato, known as Beni Imo. This nutrient-rich tuber is a staple ingredient in many Okinawan desserts and snacks. Its vibrant purple color and sweet flavor make it a highly sought-after ingredient.

You can find Beni Imo in various forms, from cakes and brownies to ice cream. One popular treat is a tart filled with piped purple cream, showcasing the potato’s unique flavor. Whether you enjoy it in a dessert or as a standalone snack, Beni Imo is a must-try delicacy that showcases Okinawa’s agricultural prowess.

5. Umibudo


Prepare to be amazed by the delicate and delightful Umibudo, also known as “sea grapes.” This unique seaweed variety resembles tiny clusters of green grapes, hence its name. Umibudo is a common staple in Okinawan cuisine, thanks to its refreshing taste and pleasing texture.

When served, Umibudo is accompanied by a tangy dipping sauce that perfectly complements its salty and fresh flavor. But the real highlight of this dish is the unique sensation it creates in your mouth. As you bite into the Umibudo, it pops and releases a burst of flavor, creating a truly delightful experience.

6. Tofuyo


For the adventurous foodies out there, Tofuyo is a must-try Okinawan delicacy. This pungent fermented tofu dish is an acquired taste, but it offers a unique and memorable experience. Tofuyo has a creamy texture and a complex flavor profile with hints of sweetness and saltiness.

Traditionally reserved for nobles in the past, Tofuyo is now widely available across Okinawa. It is often served in small two-centimeter cubes and eaten with a toothpick-like instrument. If you’re up for a culinary adventure, give Tofuyo a try and expand your palate with this distinctive Okinawan treat.

7. Rafute


Pork lovers rejoice! Okinawa is home to a mouthwatering pork dish called Rafute. This indulgent delicacy features slabs of pork belly that are simmered in soy sauce and glazed with brown sugar, resulting in a sweet and savory flavor explosion.

Rafute can be enjoyed on its own or as a topping for various dishes, including Okinawa Soba. The tender and melt-in-your-mouth texture of the pork belly combined with the rich flavors of the sauce make Rafute a true delight for meat enthusiasts. Don’t miss the opportunity to savor this Okinawan pork perfection during your culinary journey.

8. Sata Andagi


Indulge your sweet tooth with Sata Andagi, the beloved Okinawan doughnut. These fried delights feature a crispy exterior and a soft, cakey center, making them a perfect treat to satisfy your sweet cravings.

Sata Andagi can be enjoyed in its classic form or paired with various accompaniments such as sweet potato ice cream, fruits, or even vegetables. For the ultimate culinary experience, try them fresh and hot out of the fryer. The irresistible combination of crispy and tender textures makes Sata Andagi a must-have dessert in Okinawa.

9. Awamori


No culinary journey in Okinawa would be complete without a taste of the island’s iconic liquor, Awamori. This traditional Okinawan alcohol is made from long-grain rice and carries a rich and robust flavor that distinguishes it from other Japanese liquors.

Awamori is often aged to develop its distinct taste, but fruit-flavored variations are also becoming popular. Whether enjoyed on the rocks or used as a base for cocktails, Awamori is a quintessential Okinawan experience that should not be missed by those who appreciate a good drink.

10. Orion Beer


Quench your thirst with a glass of Orion Beer, the pride of Okinawa. This crisp and refreshing brew is a staple in the island’s beer scene and is enjoyed by locals and visitors alike. Its light and smooth taste make it the perfect companion for hot Okinawan summers.

Orion Beer has played a significant role in building Okinawa’s beer culture, and it is widely available at various establishments across the island. It’s even celebrated with the annual Orion Beer Fest, one of the biggest beer festivals in Japan. So, raise a glass of Orion Beer and toast to the flavors of Okinawa!

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