A cozy shop serves up Okinawa's sweet side
Cookies, cakes, chocolates and ice cream. There are a lot of options when you have a sweet tooth.
But if you are feeling tired of these ordinary sweets, why not try some Okinawan treats instead?
Ryukyu Kashidokoro Ryugu in Naha City is just the place to start.
Start off with the shop’s signature sweet, “saataandaagi.” As its name in the Okinawan dialect suggests – “saata” (sugar), “anda” (oil) and “agi” (fry) – this traditional local favorite is often characterized as an Okinawan doughnut.
“It is one of the most popular sweets and is always served at festive occasions on Okinawa,” says Misako Akashi, Ryugu’s manager.
The shop takes pride in sticking with the traditional method of preparing the fried delicacy.
“We don’t add water or milk when we knead the dough,” Akashi says. “Since we only use egg and flour to make the dough, our saataandaagi fries up very crispy on the outside while remaining soft, moist and chewy on the inside.”
Ryugu offers plain saataandaagi for 70 yen ($0.50) along with a variety of flavor such as coconut, brown sugar, black sesame and ground soybean for 110 yen.
This shop is also known for its large and colorful shaved-ice concoction called Yumeiro Zenzai, which literally translates as “Dream-Colored Sweet Soup.” It costs 600 yen ($5).
Aptly named, this is a mountain of shaved ice with ice cream and sweet beans – all smothered with five different flavors of brightly colored syrups.
“The finely shaved ice has a really snow-like texture,” Akashi says. “Since it is colorful and served in a large bowl, children always order it as sweet treat.”
Besides these popular sweets, the shop offers various locally made fruit juices, such as dragon fruit, “goya” (bitter melon), brown sugar and banana for 430 yen.
Since Ryukyu Kashidokoro Ryugu is situated in Naha’s busy Heiwadori shopping district, Akashi says U.S. service members often drop in for treat. But mot enough.
“I want more Americans to come and learn how tasty Okinawan sweets are through our shop,” she says. “They shouldn’t hesitate to speak to our staff in English about anything.”
Although Ryugu can accommodate 18 customers at a time, Akashi says the shop is often packed with patrons.
“If you want enjoy your sweets in a more relaxing atmosphere, please avoid the busy weekends and visit us between 11a.m. and 12 p.m. or 2-3 p.m. on weekdays,” Akashi suggests.
Be sure to drop by Ryugu the next time you are in central Naha City. Its tasty and attractive Okinawan sweets are not only likely to satisfy your sweet tooth, they just might put a little pep in your step for the rest of your stroll around town.
Ryukyu Kashidokoro Ryugu
Hours: 10 a.m.-7 p.m. (close the third Thursday of every month)
Address: 2-9-14 Matsuo, Naha City