If everyone has visited Tokyo or Osaka, why not visit Okinawa in Japan to experience the various spaces and views? Okinawa has been known as a place that is different from other cities and localities in Japan, therefore, you will not surprise by the food which brings to you new but interesting flavors and sensations with a wide range of foods that will satisfy your taste buds. So, what to eat in Okinawa (Okinawa what to eat), what to eat in naha Okinawa and where to eat in Okinawa? Let’s check out 31+ must try food in Okinawa, (must eat in Okinawa) must eat Okinawa including best food in Okinawa, top food to eat in Okinawa, Okinawa famous food (famous food in Okinawa), Okinawa local food, Okinawa traditional food as well as best places to eat in Okinawa to find out the answer!
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With the fusion of Eastern and Western cultures, Okinawa has become the home of many quirky delicacies that can only be found on this special island. Surrounded by the sea, Okinawa’s cuisine culture can be said to be “Beginning with pork and ending with pork”.
Although many people said that Okinawan cuisine is too simple and not as special as other Japanese dishes, the specialties in Okinawa are very diverse. Besides pork, a lot of local vegetables, algae, and fish are also used as ingredients for dishes in Okinawa. An interesting point to be noted is that Okinawa has been known for its superfood, which is very nutritious and good for your body.
Therefore, if you have the opportunity to experience Japanese tours and travel this area, you should quickly try some dishes listed below.
What to eat in Okinawa: Salt Ice Cream
Ice cream with salt? It might be special, when you are in Okinawa, however, you just try this silky soft salted ice cream named Yukishio, which is only at Yukishio Saltworks. “Yukishio” means the snow salt, and is considered a healthy food from Miyako Island in Okinawa, Japan.
It seems to contain the most minerals in the world and a variety of mouth-watering flavors – hibiscus (atiso), cocoa, wasabi (mustard), pepper, black sesame, green tea and etc.
Surprisingly, if you think wasabi is a picky taste, it is proper for ice cream. This ice cream taste will give you an “intense” taste in the beginning, but then the vanilla will regain the best and increase the sweetness of the ice cream. What’s an interesting food!
- Price: ¥350 ($4.60)
Sata Andagi (Okinawa Donuts)
From the traditional American donuts, the island’s locals have transformed variously to make Okinawan donuts.
Sata Andagi is a round, sweet donut that’s deep-fried perfectly, therefore the crust is very nice and crispy, while the inner is light and fluffy! The shape is likely a small ball, the fillings contain purple sweet potato, brown sugar and outside sprinkled with black sesame and desiccated coconut. Originated from Okinawa Prefecture, this sweet dish is also very popular in Hawaii and is widely sold by roadside hawkers. If you enter a fancy restaurant or cafe, you will see Okinawan donuts served with ice cream.
- Price: 80–100 JPY/0.59 – 0.74 USD
Best food in Okinawa: Taco rice
It’s seemed Taco was firstly found at the Para Senri restaurant next to the US military base in Kin-Cho town in 1984. The original Taco is eaten with tortillas made from cornstarch and originated in Mexico and the United States.
However, Okinawans use ingredients such as seasoned minced meat, lettuce, cheese, and salsa of Taco to eat with rice, which Tacos rice was born from. Among Okinawan specialties, Taco rice is a well-known cuisine by tourists to this country. It’s called rice, but an Okinawan version of taco salad as well!
Taco rice can be considered to be an example of Okinawa’s diverse culture. But this dish has a very unique taste. People do not pay attention that Taco rice is Japanese or Mexican because it is simply too delicious.
Taco rice is one of the types of rice that is ready in restaurants and other places such as schools, family meals, supermarkets, or snack bars all over Okinawa!
- Price: 500–800 JPY/ 3.7 – 5.92 USD
Where to eat Taco rice?
There are many restaurants you can choose to eat this Taco rice. However, the Taco rice is here presented impressively. Layers of rice, cheese, and meat are stacked and vegetables are lined up all around. When eating, use a spoon to scoop the toppings and mix the vegetables together.
Soraniwa restaurant (Irabu Island)
The colorful Taco Rice dishes are here arranged in a fairly large bowl and the meat is seasoned with a characteristic spicy flavor. The cafe is built quite luxuriously, both enjoy the food and look at the clear blue sea on Irabu Island.
Sweet Potato Tart (purple sweet potato)
Purple sweet potato is a perfectly healthy food, so Okinawans have used it to make various dishes for centuries. Many stores are found by tourists to exclusively sell purple sweet potatoes.
It is made with sweet potato ice cream, dried sweet potato, fried sweet potato and a variety of sweet potato cakes. In particular, sweet potato tart is one of the souvenirs that you should buy when traveling to Okinawa, Japan. Okashi Goten Sweets Palace Traditional Store is chilled out and loved by tourists and local residents.
You can even make a batch of sweet potato cake with your taste at the Onna Store branch. You can register a class prior to one day and also choose the time frames, such as 10 am, 1 pm, and 4 pm.
- Price: 2,160 JPY per box of 12 pieces/ (15.98 USD)
Best food in Okinawa: Umi Budo (Sea grapes/grape seaweeds)
Umibudo is a favored species of Okinawa. It is made from a type of seaweed that has small balls at the end of the stem. Umibudo is grown in Okinawa and harvested from the fall to the spring of next year.
This dish is usually eaten raw with soy sauce and fresh lemon or vinegar. The interesting thing is that when eating, this dish explodes in your mouth like you are eating salmon roe. Umi shall be the perfect and succulent snack eaten with a cold beer!
There is a very unique mild salty taste that will cause you to overeat. This sea grape is also known as a healthy snack because it contains many beneficial vitamins and minerals for your body. Although you can enjoy grape seaweeds all over Japan, you should try at once the fresh taste of the place where directly produced.
- Price: 1,000-1,500 JPY per meal (7.4 – 11.1 USD)
Where to eat Umibudo?
Located in Kouri Island – a famous sightseeing spot in the North, Okinawa. You can drive over the famous Kouri Ohashi bridge to get here. You should try Kaisendon seafood rice with a variety of sashimi and grape seaweed served with rice. It’s better to enjoy the fresh and delicious taste of grape seaweed at the original place.
The restaurant is located at the southern port of Tokujin Island. It is famous for the Umibudo-don grape seaweed rice dish. A bowl of rice filled with grape seaweed and shredded herring will be very suitable for those who love this grape seaweed dish.
What to eat in Okinawa: Rafute (stewed bacon)
How to cook Rafute? – Rafute is made from pork ribs, pork ears, pork face or Sanmainiku – bacon made with Awamori (Okinawa alcohol), soy sauce, brown sugar and skipjack tuna broth. Rafute is usually served with a bit of sauce and radish or even skewered over the grill. The meat is rich, sweet and a bit spicy, hence Rafute is very suitable to eat with rice, soba noodles or as bait to drink alcohol.
Rafute in Okinawa is a full-bodied, melting and mouth-watering dish; What’s more for this dish, the locals believe it can help prolong their life.
- Price: 1,000-1,500 JPY /7.4 – 11.1 USD
Best food in Okinawa: Okinawa Soba (Soba Noodles)
These dish names are easy to mislead and confuse if you define them by the standards of traditional Soba elsewhere in Japan! Although this dish is called Okinawa Soba, the noodles are almost similar to traditional Udon noodles and the broth flavor is similar to ramen. It can be said that soba noodles are the soul food representing Okinawan cuisine.
Soba Okinawa noodles are made from rice flour and juice extracted from pork and Katsuo skipjack. People also add scallions, chili, and ginger to enhance the flavor of the dish.
If you put the stewed pork belly in the noodle bowl, it will be “Okinawa Soba noodles”, and the stewed ribs will be “Soki Soba noodles”. There are also Ishigaki soba noodles and Miyako soba noodles. Although there are many types of soba noodles, each of which has its own unique characteristics, Okinawa is so popular that there is a local word for those who are fervent with Soba noodles. Once you have eaten, you will want to overeat.
Although simple, the taste of Soba noodles is delicious. Noodles are highly appreciated in Okinawa, which is even a special day (October 17) as a dedicated time to celebrate the dish. So, if you suddenly come to Okinawa on this day, look out for more economical prices or even a free bowl of Okinawa Soba!
- Price: 500-800 JPY/ 3.7 – 5.92 USD
Where to eat Soba Noodles?
This is a famous restaurant for Okinawa soba noodles. The set of Soki noodles with tenderloin ribs has been cooked with noodles.
This is a small shop located on Route 78 dating back to the Showa period (1969). The soup of Soki Soba noodles is made from herring, Combu algae, and bones, so it is very sweet and less greasy. The flat noodles served with a piece of pork tendon will satisfy your taste buds.
Must try food in Okinawa: Awamori (Awamori Rice Wine)
Everyone has heard of sake in Japan, but you know that Okinawa has a unique alcoholic beverage made from long-grain Indica rice called Awamori, distilled by Okinawans on the island. It usually contains from 30-43% alcohol, sometimes up to 80%, however, the taste of Awamori is quite mild, not harsh and has a light aroma.
Awamori is aged in traditional clay pots to “nourish” the flavors, and this wine is often enjoyed to the fullest with ice and water.
At parties, there is always Awamori alcohol, but it is diluted with water to reduce the alcohol content. Besides, people also use Awamori wine with brown sugar to soak plums, processed into plum wine with a sweet taste but much less alcohol.
There is also a convenient bottled version of Awamori known as Habu-Shu, which are typically quite affordable.
- Price: 500 JPY/ 3.7 USD – per 750ml bottle
Goya Champuru (Fried Bitter Gourd)
Referring to Okinawan specialties, one must definitely mention Goya Champuru. This pan-fried bitter gourd dish is extremely delicious and an indispensable dish for everyday meals.
Goya Champuru is made of bitter melon, tofu, egg, sliced pork and a few other auxiliary ingredients that make up a unique dish that is like a heavenly taste in your mouth. One can prepare a sautéed bitter gourd in many ways. Either fry it up like tempura or slice it thinly and mix it up in a salad or pick it up as a side dish. This dish has full of flavor and is nutritious. Vitamin C in bitter melon makes this dish a cooling dish to purify the body during summer days in Okinawa.
You can buy this snack in almost convenience stores in Okinawa, and they pack a great souvenir as well to take home from your trip.
After all, with over a thousand years of history, the residents of Okinawa certainly had plenty of time to perfect and elevate it to the quality it is today.
This is the eternal summer dish in Okinawa. Goya (bitter gourd) with its legendary bitter taste will make others hesitate to try it, however, it contains a lot of beneficial nutrients for the body. When it comes to the topic of life nutrition in Okinawa, Goya is of course an indispensable ingredient. As an iconic Okinawan dish that is different from typical Japanese dishes, you will feel inadequate and can’t leave the island without trying a bowl of Goya Champuru!
- Price: 980 JPY/ 7.2 USD
Must try food in Okinawa: Yagi Sashimi (Raw Goat Meat)
Cooked goat meat can be found in some parts of Japan, but raw goat meat is probably only found in Okinawa. One of the best places to eat this delicacy is in Nanzan, a goat meat specialty restaurant and one of the top 100 restaurants in Kyushu and Okinawa. With quite tough, strong and rich flavor pieces of meat, it’s certainly not for the persons who prefer safety and non-adventure.
- Price: 1,200-1,500 JPY/ 8.81 – 11.02 VND
Must try food in Okinawa: Mimiga (Sliced Pork Ear Salad)
This is a traditional Okinawan dish. There is a processing method similar to the pork ear salad of Vietnam.
While you might think that the pig’s ears are not delicious, Mimiga can change your mind! Either steamed or boiled, and then chopped, you can enjoy it with toppings such as vinegar, peanut butter, and hot miso. This dish is very popular with the locals because of its delicious and local taste, especially, Mimiga contains a large amount of collagen, therefore it is good for your health and beauty!
Furthermore, pork ears stirred-fried with vegetables will be called “Mimiga Irichi”.
- Price: 1,000 JPY per disc/ 7.35 USD
Okinawa famous food: Shikuwasa (kumquat)
Being a native fruit of Okinawa, Shikuwasa is not only yummy but also perfect for being a popular fruit throughout the island, used in many dishes because of its delicious aroma! That’s a result to have a delicious can of kumquat juice to quench your thirst on a hot day, you can be waked up at the moment.
- Price: 150 JPY per can/ 1.10 USD
Okinawa famous food: Agu pork
This is the pork version of “Wagu Beef”, Agu is meat obtained from a pig breed with black hair likely the wild boar and is known to be very tender and sweet. It has been renowned for its rich and tender taste, making melt in your mouth, Agu will be the major ingredient for Shabu-Shabu. Maybe this famous meat was imported from China about 600 years ago.
The Japanese often focus on their health. Hence, Agu contains a lot of collagen of repute, containing a lot of collagen.
- Price: 3,500 JPY/ 25.73 USD
Okinawa famous food: Chinsuko (small biscuits)
Chinsuko is a traditional dish of Okinawa and is the most famous biscuit on the island, these biscuits have a simple shape, on the contrary, their flavorful taste is extremely florid in order to be suitably the identical souvenirs of Okinawa! Entering any souvenir store, you’ll immediately see a box of biscuits ready to greet you.
- Price: 1,600 JPY/ 11.76 USD per box of 12 pieces
Must eat Okinawa: Orion Beer
What is special about Orion beer that makes it so famous? They use fresh, pure water from the mountains behind the brewery! Therefore, the beer taste will become special and refreshing, giving you cool feelings after drinking the first sip of beer. Hence, let’s try it if you have a chance.
Must eat Okinawa: Blue Seal Ice Cream
This is no ordinary ice cream that you are used to eating every day. Blue Seal ice cream can only be found in Okinawa and is a perennial favorite among the locals! It’s right, this beloved 68-year-old brand has earned an eternal place in the Okinawan’s hearts and is definitely a must-try while you’re here.
The menus of ice cream are not simply famous for their melt-in-the-mouth texture and great taste and along with unique flavors such as sweet potatoes, salted biscuits of Okinawa and strawberry cheesecakes, all of them assist to be a unique ice cream both in Japan and worldwide.
- Price: 280 JPY/ 2.06 USD per ice cream cone
Must eat Okinawa: Sukugarasu (firm tofu topped with salted baby fish)
Where to eat Fu Chanpuru?
Minyo Kanasando Tavern
- Address: 176 Urasaki Motobu-Cho | Urasaki Building. 2F, Motobu-cho, Kunigami-gun 905-0217, Okinawa Prefecture, Japan.
Okinawa traditional food: Tebichi No Nitsuke (Stewed Pork Roll)
Okinawans love to use all parts of a pig and Tebichi No Nitsuke is the perfect example. Tebichi No Nitsuke is made with pork feet boiled with Daikon (grated radish), carrots, tofu, and kombu kelp. Pork leg is boiled in soy sauce until it is tender and a sweet taste of the meat is likely melted in your mouth.
This dish consists of much collagen that you must try at once.
Where to eat Tebichi No Nitsuke?
- Address: 2-11-1 Matsuo, Naha 900-0014, Okinawa Prefecture
Okinawa traditional food: Asa Soup
Asa is sea lettuce, which is usually harvested on the shores of Ojima Island at the beginning of the year. It is boiled with tofu and soy sauce to make Asa soup, or can be deep-fried to make Asa Tempura.
You can also buy dried Asa from many grocery stores in Okinawa. Asa is also made as be a very healthy snack.
Where to eat Asa soup?
- Address: 388 Asato, Naha 902-0067, Okinawa Prefecture
Nakami Jiru (pork soup)
Nakami Jiru is a pork soup that is considered the main course in Okinawa’s cuisine. It uses similar ingredients as the popular Japanese Motsuni (stewed beef tripe). If you consider yourself an adventurer and love novel and rare food, you should try some Nakami Jiru soups when you travel to Okinawa.
Where to eat Nakami Jiru?
Aguigaki Shurei Heiwadorimae Beef and Pork Restaurant
- Address: 2-3-1 Makishi | Building K2. 2F, Naha 900-0013, Okinawa Prefecture
Okinawa traditional food: Pochigi (Pork Sausage)
This spicy pork sausage is very popular in Japan, but it has orthodoxy originated in Japan from Portugal. Ground pork is stuffed in a pork rind along with hot red peppers, making it a great addition to any Bento lunch in Okinawa.
Where to eat Pochigi?
- Address: 90 Nakayama, Nago 905-0004, Okinawa Prefecture
Okinawa local food: Shima Rakkyo (Okinawa shallot)
Shallot or Negi is a common ingredient in Japanese recipes. It is included in many Japanese dishes as the necessary additive in making flavor. In Okinawa, there is another type of scallion that is eaten regularly also known as Shima Rakkyo. It is harvested in April and served with salt or prepared as tempura.
Where to eat Shima Rakkyo?
Farmers Market Itoman Umanchu Market
- Address: 4-20 Nishizaki | Michi-no-Eki Itoman, Itoman 901-0305, Okinawa Prefecture
What to eat in Naha Okinawa: Tempura (Fried dish)
Tempura is a famous fried dish of Japan, one of the most popular food in Japanese cuisine. This dish usually has variations, hence the taste differs from others. Okinawa’s locals also have a version of tempura from the locally exclusive ingredients to make a unique dish.
You can enjoy sea lettuce tempura or Goya Tempura. However, one type of tempura that you need to try in Okinawa is Mozuka Tempura. The tempura has been salted, so you don’t need to dip it in the sauce anymore for eating. Especially it will be better when eating in the cold weather. A lot of locals have grown up with this dish. The preferred fillings are fish, seaweed and seafood such as squid.
In fact, in a hot and dry climate like Okinawa Island, the seafood could not be stored for a long time, therefore Tempura has been made by the locals in clever preparation of the seafood recipes.
It may sound unappealing, but this tempura has a rich flavor unlike any other. Mozuka is a type of algae and it is rather novel, but it is a very attractive sea vegetable. Okinawans also often cook it with seafood such as scallops and shrimp.
Where to eat Tempura?
- Address: 197-1 Okawa, Ishigaki 907-0022, Okinawa Prefecture
What to eat in Naha Okinawa: Yushi and Jimami Tofu
Yushi is tofu from Okinawa with the ingredients of the frozen bean paste and the finished product is softer than normal tofu and has a sweet taste.
There is also a type of tofu that I like very much, Jimami. This type uses peanuts to make tofu. The sweet and fragrant taste makes me very satisfied. This dish is just simple including pounding peanuts and grinding until watering, then, adding the potato powder for boiling. Once you have the thickened mixture, let it cool and you can enjoy your peanut butter tofu with syrup. Local department stores sell delicious peanut tofu cakes.
Where to eat Yushi and Jimami?
Iroha Tei (Naha)
The restaurant is famous for its traditional dishes of Okinawa and serves set dishes. A rice set (about 1,500 JPY) includes Yushi Tofu. This type of tofu is soft and fragrant, not hard as normal tofu and is eaten as a soup, with a little onion on top.
Tofuno Higa (Ishigaki Island)
The restaurant is also the famous tofu factory in Ishigaki. The store opens from 6:30 am until the tofu runs out, so it’s reasonable for everyone to arrive at breakfast time. The shop closes around 10 am on weekdays because it’s sold out.
You will enjoy the traditional tofu dish at this store, a simple and frugal dish has a very reasonable price, only about 500 JPY for a set of breakfast. Additionally, you can buy tofu at supermarkets to try or give as a gift.
Must eat in Okinawa: Zenzai (Red Bean dessert soup)
You’ve probably already known Zenzai – Japanese red bean soup is served with Mochi, a staple for cold winter days. But under the hot weather of Okinawa, Zenzai is a summer cooling dish.
The cool shaved ice layer covered with the red bean syrup and condensed milk promises to give you refreshment and help dispel the summer heat.
Must eat in Okinawa: Mozuku Seaweed (Sunui)
Mozuku or Sunui in the Okinawan dialect is a very famous brown seaweed on Okinawa Island. Although this type of seaweed is also available elsewhere in Japan, Okinawa is a major supplier of Mozuku to the Japanese market.
As a side-dish, Sunui is soaked in vinegar and sometimes deep-fried to make brown seaweed tempura. When you eat, you will feel a little sticky but very addictive.
Famous food in Okinawa: Brown sugar
Brown sugar is one of the specialties in Okinawa that tourists buy a lot. Since it’s made from sugar cane grown in mineral-rich regions, the iron, calcium and potassium content will be higher.
Local people always use brown sugar to make confectionery as well as a seasoning for dishes. Furthermore, visitors can also eat it in the form of small sugar tablets in case of fatigue due to anemia.
Famous food in Okinawa: Steak (Beef Steak)
After the war, the American culture has still been deeply rooted in Okinawa, so it is natural that people here love steak. Characterized by steakhouses in Okinawa as “delicious – cheap – plentiful”, the restaurant has a friendly atmosphere and is easy to enter, hence it attracts not only locals but also tourists.
The famous and long-standing restaurant is Jack’s Steak House. In addition, more and more steak shops are opening along Kokusai Dori street. Steak shops serve for lunch, dinner to even eating after drinking. The characteristics of the restaurant are delicious steaks at a reasonable price and the atmosphere is like a ramen shop. Guests after drinking or coming to eat. When you enter the shop, you will buy your own order ticket in advance. Steak in Okinawa cannot exclude A1 sauce, salt and wasabi. Soup and rice are optional. The shop only has counter seats facing the kitchen.
Where to eat beef steak?
This is a famous steakhouse chain in Okinawa. There are many types of premium beef such as Ishigaki Gyu beef and also the desired amount from 200gr to 1kg for customers’ choice, depending on the ability to eat.
This is a famous Shichu steak and beef (beef stew) restaurant that was featured on the TV show “Ojama Mapu”. At Green Field, you will enjoy the traditional Okinawan A1 sauce. The succulent piece of meat is placed on a hot, flat pan, extremely attractive.
The restaurant will have a professional chef perform the cuisine in front of a Teppan stove and serve each guest one by one. With a steak course lunch priced from 1800 JPY, you will enjoy a quality beef fillet. Soft and sweet beef pieces served with vegetables, soup, Goya Chamburu or grilled vegetables and rice, and garlic bread.
Some best day tours, trips, activities and transfer services, tickets in and from Okinawa you can refer to
- Private Naha Airport Transfers (OKA) for Okinawa
- Private Naha Airport (OKA) Transfers for Okinawa
- Private Naha Airport (OKA) Transfers to Okinawa
- Okinawa Airport Shuttle Unlimited Ride Pass (3/5 Days)
- Okinawa Stargazing Trip with Taxi/Private Chartered Car Transfer
- Main Island Enjoy Pass in Okinawa
- Okinawa Main Island Route Bus Pass & Monorail Pass
- Okinawa Hip Hop Bus One Day Tour: Cape Manza, Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium & More
- Churashima Okinawa Bus Day Tour (Naha Departure)
- Eight Okinawa Attractions Pass
- Okinawa Cooking Class and Historic Market Tour
- Southern Okinawa Half/One Day Trip
- Okinawa Private Car Charter
- Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium Ticket (Naha Airport Pick Up)
- 4G Prepaid Sim Card (JP Airports Pick Up) for Japan
- 4G WiFi (Japan Pick Up) for Japan
- JR Pass for Whole Japan (7, 14, or 21 Days)
Are you looking for more some hidden gems cafes in Okinawa? Let’s check it out: The fullest guide for your wonderful first trip to Okinawa, Japan.