Cuisine is Okinawa’s saving grace
How well is Okinawa suited to satisfy the palate of international suitors?
Well, there’s no shortage of restaurants featuring American, Italian, French, German, and British cuisine, but several distinctive native dishes should have mouths watering for more.
Okinawa soba is the most popular dish. The large bowls of noodles are generally eaten as a stand-alone meal, but are also popular as the centerpiece of a lunch or dinner set. Most versions come with pork ribs, but there are also sobsa shops that specialize in vegetables and fish. The best Okinawan restaurant to sample Okinawan fare is Ikoi in Naha City (2-7-22 Matsuo, tel: 098-862-6179).
Also popular is the stir-fry dish of goya and tofu. Goya is a bitter vegetable most foreigners really have to develop a taste for. Some restaurants try to spice up the bitterness with bits of ham or bacon - and there’s always a glass of Japanese beer nearby to wash it down.
Several restaurants stand out to foreigners because of their combination of cuisine and atmosphere. Sam’s By The Sea restaurants in Naha and Okinawa City (Kokusai St., Naha City, tel: 098-861-9595; 1-41-15 Awase, Okinawa City, tel: 098-937-3421) are perfect for seafood lovers. The young crowd heads to Miahama’s Gourmet Town’s collection of Mexican, Italian, Korean, Chinese, Okinawan, American and Indian food under one roof, or more accurately, under the stars since much of the facility is an open pavilion. Gourmet Town is located at 2-4-2 Miahama, Chatan Town, tel: 098-936-9306.
Yoshi Hachi Sushi (590-3 Kuwae, Chatan Town, tel: 098-936-2359) features hordes of celebrity memorabilia, not to mention great sushi. For spicy Louisiana-style barbecue ribs and chicken, and the island’s best fried shrimp, it’s Sauces (2-13-9 Chatan, Chatan Town, tel: 098-936-0204). Finally, a visit to Okinawa would not be complete without a trip to King Kong’s Yakiniku in Awase (1-20-30 Awase, Okinawa City, tel: 098-934-3445).
No matter what your palate prefers, you’re bound to find something enjoyable to eat in Okinawa.