In mainland Japan and Okinawa, you’ll find plenty of noodle dishes to curb your hunger. Besides the standard ramen, soba, and udon, somen might not be at the top of the chart for noodle enthusiasts. But it is delicious and worth seeking out to try for yourself.

Somen, or somin in Okinawan dialect, comes in different varieties, but an Okinawan favorite is to have the noodles stir-fried in somin champuru. For many Okinawans, it is a go-to when they need to quickly prepare a lunch. At izakaya bars on the island, you can count on it as a good appetizer.

Against the backdrop of Okinawa’s popularity as a tourist destination, somin champuru has been recognized across the country. Now many restaurants and bars on mainland Japan serve up this taste of Okinawa.

I am sure somin champuru would make a great side dish for a glass of beer, whether you are in an izakaya on Okinawa or in Tokyo. Better yet, you can cook some up at home for a hearty and tasty meal.

This is probably one of the easiest Okinawan dishes to prepare, but it also can be customized and cooked with different ingredients to change it up. However, a simple recipe like the one below only requires a few vegetables like carrots, long green onions, seasonings, noodles and about 10 minutes to prepare. Why not try this easy and tasty Okinawan favorite?

“Somin champuru” or “somin tashiyaa”

Somin champuru is sometimes called somin tashiyaa. Serai, a Japanese magazine dedicated to culture, food, and travel, claims that the name “somin tashiyaa” is more appropriate. According to the magazine, the word “champuru” is thought to have its roots in the word “campur,” which means “mix up” in the Indonesian language. “Champuru,” in general, refers to stir fry cooked with seasonal vegetables and tofu, not somen, explains the magazine.

This idea seems legit as it is backed by official entities such as the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF) and the Okinawa Dietetic Association. However, as a regular Okinawan, I find the name “somin champuru” far more common than “somin tashiyaa” (In fact, I had never heard of the word “tashiyaa” until I wrote this article). You likely find the word “ソーミンチャンプルー(somin champuru)” not “ソーミンタシヤー(somin tashiyaa)” on local izakaya menu books.

Sea Chicken

Although somin champuru can be cooked in various ways, many of them would have some ingredients in common. One example is canned tuna. Commonly called “Sea Chicken,” this is another big-time Okinawan favorite. According to Okinawa Times, a local newspaper, Okinawans consume more than 16 million cans of Hagoromo Foods’ “シーチキン (Sea Chicken)” per year, which is about four times the average number in the country. Hagoromo Foods is a major producer of canned tuna, with more than 50 percent of the market share. Due to the island’s humid climate and the influence of the U.S. military, the paper explains, canned tuna from overseas countries was commonly marketed in Okinawa. “シーチキン” became an instant hit when it was introduced to the island in the early 1980s. It also became a popular gift for islanders visiting their relatives during the Obon period.

Somin Champuru Recipe (based on an article by Orion Beer)

Ingredients (Serves 2-3 people)

Somen noodles (200g)

Canned tuna (30 to 40g, about half a can. Those soaked in oil are preferred)

Salt (2.5 cc)

Oil (a) (5 cc)

Oil (b) (15 cc)

Broth of bonito flakes (30 cc)

Carrot (a third of one carrot)

Long green onion (as much as you want)

Soy sauce (a little)


1. Boil somen noodles in hot water. Put them in a sieve 40 seconds later.

2. Cool them down by soaking them in cold water. Rinse the noodles with water and remove the slimy texture.

3. Put noodles in a sieve and remove water before mixing them with canned tuna, salt, and oil (a, 5 cc) in a bowl.

4. Heat oil (b, 15 cc) in a frying pan and quickly fry the shredded carrot. Add in the noodles of step 3.

5. Evenly pour the broth of bonito flakes and quickly fry the noodles. Stir them and prevent them from being tangled with each other.

6. Evenly spread soy sauce and quickly mix it with the noodles.

7. Sprinkle sliced green onion on top and enjoy! いただきます (Itadakimasu!)!

The best stories from the Pacific, in your inbox

Sign up for our weekly newsletter of articles from Japan, Korea, Guam, and Okinawa with travel tips, restaurant reviews, recipes, community and event news, and more.

Sign Up Now