Menu
Japan

26 Best food in Okinawa: Where and What to eat in Okinawa

Want to know what to eat in Okinawa Japan? Or what the best Okinawan dishes look and taste like? I put together a comprehensive post on all the best food in Okinawa because Okinawan food differs from typical Japanese cuisine due to its unique geographical location and influences from China, South East Asia and the US.

Besides the typical Japanese food like sushi and ramen, there are many other types of food that you can only find in Okinawa, and they can all be found in local diners, izakaya restaurants and everywhere in between.

If you love eating as much as I do and are excited to go on a culinary journey in Okinawa, get ready! I’ll show you exactly what to eat in Okinawa and where to find the best food in Naha Okinawa.

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links. If you buy something through them, I will receive a small commission at no additional cost. Thank you for supporting this website. For more information, please read the disclosure for more info.

Tips for eating the best food in Okinawa Japan

Before trying some of the best food in Okinawa, take a look at my post on everything you need to know before going to Japan. I included a lot of travel information including how to get around Japan and other travel tips.

Here are a few additional tips for eating in Naha Okinawa:

  • Bring cash as many restaurants only accept cash.
  • Bring your credit card also as the bigger restaurants accept credit card payment.
  • Tipping is not necessary.
  • Check the hours of operation when you are eating in Okinawa. Noodle shops and some restaurants open between 10am-3pm while many izakaya restaurants only open after 5pm and stay open until late.
  • Some touristy izakaya restaurants have live singing performances during dinner service. Typically, there are two rounds of performances each night.

26 best food in Okinawa: what to eat in Okinawa

See the summary of the 26 best Okinawa food below. This is a quick guide when you are searching for what to eat in Okinawa Japan.

And when you scroll down further, I include a detailed explanation for each food in Okinawa and where you can find the local food. And I also include photos for each.

Here is a quick summary of the 26 Okinawa best food:

Traditional breakfast in Okinawa

  1. Misoshiru – Okinawan miso soup made with a variety of ingredients.
  2. Yushi Tofu – soup made with simple tofu with soy milk.
  3. Boroboro jushi – Okinawan porridge made with seasoned rice.

Okinawa famous food

  1. Okinawa Soba – Okinawan noodle soup made with wheat noodles, fish cakes and pork belly
  2. Okinawa Agu Pork – primary pork breed in Okinawa
  3. Ishigaki Beef – premium beef from Ishigaki Island
  4. Okinawan Stir-fry – including Goya Champuru (bitter gourd/melon), Tofu Champuru (tofu) and Somen Champuru (somen noodle)
  5. Taco Rice – Tex-Mex ingredients (ground beef, lettuce, cheese, tomato) on top of rice
  6. Okinawan seafoodGurukun (banana fish), Green Turban (giant sea snail), Tiger Prawns, Skipjack Tuna and more

Okinawa street food

  1. Okinawa Onigiri – spam and egg Japanese rice ball
  2. Beni imo – purple sweet potato

Okinawa small dishes

  1. Rafute – Okinawan braised pork belly
  2. Umibudo – type of edible seaweed aka “sea grapes”
  3. Mozuku – slimy strands of seaweed
  4. Jimami Tofu – peanut tofu
  5. Tofuyo – fermented tofu
  6. Abura Miso – Okinawan seasoned miso

Drinks in Okinawa

  1. Orion Beer – most popular beer in Okinawa
  2. Awamori – Okinawa distilled rice liquor
  3. Buku Buku Tea – traditional Okinawan tea
  4. Shikuwasa – small green citrus fruit native to Okinawa

Okinawa desserts and sweets

  1. Okinawa ice cream – try local flavours like Okinawan salt cookies, Shikuwasa sherbet, Beni imo, and Ryukyu Royal Milk Tea
  2. Okinawa Zenzai – Okinawan shaved ice dessert
  3. Sata Andagi – Okinawan doughnut
  4. Kasa Muchi – Okinawa traditional rice cake
  5. Chinsuko – traditional Ryukyu cookie

Where to eat in Okinawa: 27 best places to eat in Naha

Below is a list of the best places to eat in Naha Okinawa. And in all of these food outlets, noodle shops and izakaya restaurants, you can find the local specialties listed this is post.

To find the address for each location of the best restaurants in Okinawa, click on the restaurant name, which will bring you to the location on Google Maps.

Okinawa breakfast restaurants

  1. Itsudemo Asa Gohan – serving Okinawan breakfast all day.
  2. Manmaru Cafe – popular breakfast restaurant with many traditional and modern Okinawan breakfast.
  3. Martuama – excellent breakfast set meals.

Okinawa fast food joints

  1. Pork Tamago Onigiri – they sell spam and egg onigiri and variations of this classic Okinawan snack.
  2. Fukusuke’s Tamagoyaki (福助の玉子焼き) – try the onigiri with a thick slice of egg.

Okinawa markets

  1. First Makishi Public Market – the temporary covered market location have seafood vendors downstairs and restaurants upstairs.
  2. Tomari Iyumachi – try grilled seafood at one of the vendors at this seafood market near Tomari Port.

Okinawa speciality restaurants

  1. Okinawa Soba Eibun – very popular noodle shop serving Okinawa soba.
  2. Shuri Soba – go early and try Okinawa soba with noodles or without.
  3. Takaesu Soba – famous for their Yushi tofu soba.
  4. Sobe Soba – try a bowl of Okinawa soba with pork ribs or pork cartilage.
  5. Jam’s Tacos – order Jam’s tacos set and try both taco rice and taco.
  6. Ruler’s Tacorice – many variations of taco rice.
  7. Shima ShabuShabu Nakama – Japanese hot pot with Agu pork and Ishigaki beef as the main ingredients.
  8. Tonkatsu Restaurant – try Agu Pork tonkatsu at this specialty restaurant.

Okinawa regional and izakaya restaurants

  1. Nuchigafu – instagrammable set lunches and dinner serving Okinawan cuisine.
  2. Yunangi – homey izakaya restaurant that is open for lunch and dinner.
  3. Dachibin – best izakaya restaurant in a renovated Japanese-style house. Surcharge is applicable.
  4. Okinawa Sakaba Namihei Territory – quirky izyaka restaurant.
  5. Okinawa Dining Hateruma – out of all the touristy izakaya restaurants on the Kokusai-dori, this is one of the better ones. They serve set lunches and izakaya dishes at night. There’s singing during dinner service too.

Okinawa cafes and confectionary

  1. Uchina Cafe Buku Buku – cafe on Tsuboya pottery street offering tea and desserts.
  2. Ryukyu Kashi-Dokoro Ryugu – confectionary shop selling Okinawan doughnuts and cookies.
  3. Matsuhara Confectionary – local confectionary shop selling homemade sweets.

Okinawa ice cream shops

  1. Blue Seal – Okinawa’s most popular ice cream brand. Find one of many shops in Naha.
  2. Yukisio Soft Ice Cream – try soft serve ice cream with different toppings like cocoa salt and wasabi salt.
  3. Yokaze ice – very instagrammable ice cream sundaes.
  4. Okashigoten – try various ice cream treats at the restaurant above the gift shop.

Traditional breakfast in Okinawa

1. Okinawan breakfast

What is Okinawan breakfast: traditional Okinawa breakfast is made with miso, rice, grains, and tofu. Variations of this traditional breakfast include:

  1. Misoshiru – Okinawan miso soup made with a variety of ingredients. Eat a bowl by itself or have it with seasoned rice (jushi).
  2. Yushi Tofu – soup made with simple tofu with soy milk. Eat a bowl by itself or have it with a bowl of seasoned rice.
  3. Boroboro jushi – Okinawan porridge made with seasoned rice.

Where to eat Okinawan breakfast: Itsudemo Asa Gohan, Manmaru Cafe, Martuama

Okinawa famous food

1. Okinawa soba

What is Okinawa soba: Okinawan noodle soup made with wheat noodles and is served with steamed fish cakes (kamaboko), pork belly, and a light broth. The noodle resemble udon or ramen more than the traditional soba noodle. This is a Okinawa must eat! Try a regular bowl or Soki Soba which comes with stewed boneless pork ribs, red pickled ginger and scallions or with Yushi Tofu.

Where to eat Okinawa soba: Okinawa Soba Eibun, Shuri Soba, Takaesu Soba, Sobe Soba and other noodle shops and izakaya restaurants

2. Okinawa Agu Pork

What is Agu Pork: A pork breed first introduced to Okinawa over 600 years ago. The meat tastes sweet and has good marbling. Many Okinawan dishes are centred around Agu Pork. It can be eaten in a bowl of soba, over rice, in dumplings, tonkatsu (deep-fried) and other variations.

Where to eat Agu Pork: Shima ShabuShabu Nakama, Tonkatsu Restaurant, Nuchigafu, Yunangi, Dachibin, Okinawa Sakaba Namihei Territory, Okinawa Dining Hateruma and other specialty restaurants and izakaya restaurants

3. Ishigaki Beef

What is Ishigaki Beef: beef cattle from Ishigaki Island, which is part of Okinawa. It is a type of wagyu beef, but Ishigaki beef is a bit more tender because of the rich marbling and soft texture. The beef is so tender it will melt in your mouth! Try it Ishigaki beef in shabu shabu (hot pot), as sushi, on a hot skillet or in a teppanyaki (flat grill) restaurant.

Where to eat Ishigaki Beef: Shima ShabuShabu Nakama, Nuchigafu, Yunangi, Dachibin, Okinawa Sakaba Namihei Territory, Okinawa Dining Hateruma and other specialty restaurants and izakaya restaurants

4. Okinawan stir-fry

What is Okinawan stir-fry: stir-fry dishes made with fresh wholesome ingredients found in Okinawa. These dishes including:

  • Goya Champuru – bitter gourd (or bitter melon) stir-fry made with thin slices of bitter gourd, egg, tofu, bean sprouts, cabbage, pork belly or spam. This is the most popular Okinawan stir-fry.
  • Tofu Champuru – stir-fry made with vegetables, pork or beef and of course, firm tofu.
  • Soumin Champuru – noodle stir-fry starts with heaps of somen noodles then meat and chives are added to the mix.

Where to eat Okinawan stir-fry: Nuchigafu, Yunangi, Dachibin, Okinawa Sakaba Namihei Territory, Okinawa Dining Hateruma, other diners and izakaya restaurants

5. Taco Rice

What is Taco Rice: this dish always include these basic ingredients: ground beef with taco spices, lettuce, cheese, tomato on rice. This modern Okinawan dish was invented in the 1980s to cater to American soldiers. Today, there are many variations of Taco Rice all over Okinawa because this Tex-Mex dish is tasty, inexpensive and a filling meal.

Where to eat Taco Rice: Jam’s Tacos, Ruler’s Tacorice, Dachibin, other diners, speciality restaurants and izakaya restaurants

6. Seafood in Okinawa

What is Okinawan seafood: Some of the best Okinawan seafood including Gurukun (banana fish), Green Turban (giant sea snail), Tiger Prawns and Skipjack Tuna. Fresh seafood can be enjoyed in one of four ways: as sashimi, broiled, fried or sautéed in butter. Try it at most izakaya restaurants or hand-pick a specific seafood at the fish market and the vendor will cook it for you.

Where to eat seafood in Okinawa: First Makishi Public Market, Tomari Iyumachi, Nuchigafu, Yunangi, Dachibin, Okinawa Sakaba Namihei Territory, Okinawa Dining Hateruma and other izakaya restaurants

Okinawa street food

1. Okinawa Onigiri

What is Okinawa Onigiri: spam and egg Japanese rice ball where all the ingredients (spam, egg and rice) are sandwiched between a sheet of nori seaweed. Sort of like an open-sandwich but it is an open-rice ball. Try the classic Okinawa onigiri or have it with shrimp or an extra thick slice of egg.

Where to eat Onigiri: Pork Tamago Onigiri, Fukusuke’s Tamagoyaki (福助の玉子焼き), convenience stores and supermarkets

2. Beni imo

What is Beni imo: purple sweet potato is found all over Japan but it is super famous in Okinawa. It tastes sweet and has a rich texture. It is an excellent flavour for desserts (ice cream, cake, tarts, candy, doughnut, etc) and very delicious when it is roasted as a whole.

Where to eat Beni imo: supermarkets, convenience stores and souvenir shops sell roasted beni imo and all kinds of desserts in beni imo flavour

Okinawa small dishes

1 – 6. Okinawa izayaka dishes

What is Okinawan izayaka dishes: small and inexpensive dishes served at a Japanese bar. These traditional Okinawa dishes are excellent as snacks and pair well with alcoholic drinks.

Below are some of the more popular izakaya dishes you will find in Okinawa:

  1. Rafute – thick cuts of pork belly braised in awamori, soya sauce and Okinawa black sugar. It is both savoury and sweet.
  2. Umibudo – the “sea grapes” is a type of edible seaweed that only grows in the warm waters of Okinawa. It looks like a string of grapes and taste a bit salty like the ocean.
  3. Mozuku – slimy strands of brown seaweed. It doesn’t sound appetizing but it is actually really tasty and is a superfood. It is either marinated in Japanese vinegar or used in mozuku tempura.
  4. Jimami Tofu – the tofu-like dish starts with soaking raw peanuts in water, then straining the liquid to pan, heating it and thickening it with sweet potato starch. After it is cooled, it is served with sweeten soy sauce. The “tofu” is creamy and has a springy texture.
  5. Tofuyu – shima tofu is fermented with red yeast, rice malt and awamori, which is why it tastes very boozy. Use a toothpick and slice off a very piece of tofu; the flavour is very intense.
  6. Abura Miso – Okinawan seasoned miso made with fermented soybean paste and pork lard. It is an excellent rice topping, ingredient in onigiri and goes well with shima tofu. You only need a small amount to add extra umami flavour to your food.

Where to eat Rafute, Umibudo, Mozuku, Jimami Tofu, Tofuyo, Abura Miso: Nuchigafu, Yunangi, Dachibin, Okinawa Sakaba Namihei Territory, Okinawa Dining Hateruma and other izakaya restaurants

Drinks in Okinawa

1 & 2. Orion beer and Awamori

What is Orion beer: most popular beer in Okinawa. Named after a constellation, Orion is a Japanese rice lager beer with hints of grain and fruit flavours. It is a light-bodied beer that is easy to drink and pairs well with Okinawa cuisine. The brewery is in Nago which is 60km from Naha. But you don’t have to go all the way there – Orion is served everywhere in Okinawa!

What is Awamori: Okinawa distilled liquor with an alcohol content between 30-43%. It is made from long grain Indica rice and is made in a single fermentation. Try awamori with water and ice, straight, on the rocks and in cocktails.

Where to drink Orion beer and Awamori: Nuchigafu, Yunangi, Dachibin, Okinawa Sakaba Namihei Territory, Okinawa Dining Hateruma, and in all diners and restaurants

3. Buku Buku tea

What is Buku Buku tea: traditional tea served since the Ryukyu Kingdom. The tea is made with brown rice while the white foam is made with white rice and Sanpin Jasmin tea. Drink the tea and bubbles together. But there’s a spoon to help you if you can’t drink it straight up. And it is typically served with Okinawan tea cookies, Chinsuko and Kunpen (with peanut and sesame seed filling).

Where to drink Buku Buku tea: Uchina Cafe Buku Buku, Nuchigafu, and other cafes and restaurants

4. Shikuwasa

What is Shikuwasa: small green citrus fruit native to Okinawa. It tastes a bit sour and a bit tangy. Try mixing shikuwasa with honey and water to make shikuwasa tea. Or try different food (ice cream, cake, salad dressing, etc) that is flavoured with this citrus fruit.

Where to drink Shikuwasa: some cafes and restaurants, supermarkets and convenience stores

Okinawa desserts and sweets

1. Okinawa ice cream

What is Okinawa ice cream: the most popular dessert in Okinawa as it is found every season. Try local flavours like Okinawan salt cookies, Shikuwasa sherbet, Beni imo, and Ryukyu Royal Milk Tea. And try the soft serve too.

Where to eat Okinawa ice cream: Blue Seal, Yukisio Soft Ice Cream, Yokaze ice, Okashigoten, and other ice cream shops, restaurants, supermarkets and convenience stores

2. Okinawa zenzai

What is Okinawa Zenzai: Okinawan shaved ice dessert. This is a popular dessert in Japan but In Okinawa, the shaved ice dessert has kintoki (red kidney beans), mochi, and brown sugar syrup over fluffy shaved ice. This is a local favourite and a wonderful treat for a hot summer day.

Where to eat Okinawa Zenzai: Uchina Cafe Buku Buku, Ryukyu Kashi-Dokoro Ryugu, Shuri Soba, and other noodle shops and cafes

3. Sata Andagi

What is Sata Andagi: it means “fried sugar” and it is a deep-fried dough made with wheat flour, eggs, and brown sugar. It is crispy on the outside and moist on the inside. The texture is similar to pound cake. Try the plain doughnut or flavours like Beni imo and black sugar.

Where to eat Sata Andagi: Ryukyu Kashi-Dokoro Ryugu, Matsuhara Confectionary, confectionary shops in the covered shopping street, and supermarkets

4. Kasa Muchi

What is Kasa Muchi: Okinawa traditional rice cake made with powdered sticky rice, sugar and purple sweet potato. Then it is wrapped with a kind of palm leaf before being steamed. The muchi itself is sticky but super yummy. It comes in Beni imo, black sugar and other flavours. And fun fact – Okinawan muchi is eaten on the 8th day of December on the lunar calendar. It is said that eating muchi on this day can ward off evil.

Where to eat Kasa Muchi: Matsuhara Confectionary and other confectionary shops in the covered shopping street

5. Chinsuko

What is Chinsuko: oval-shaped cookies made with wheat flour, sugar, and lard. It has a consistency of a shortbread cookie but a bit more crumbly. This is a traditional Ryukyu sweet and comes in many flavours like Okinawan sea salt, brown sugar and Beni imo. Try it with Buku Buku tea or bring some home as it is Okinawa’s most popular souvenir.

Where to eat Chinsuko: Ryukyu Kashi-Dokoro Ryugu, souvenir stores on Kokusaidori Street and the covered shopping street

Looking for tours in Okinawa? Check out these experiences:

Okinawa food: which one do you want to try?

Wow, that was a really long list! If you are travelling solo to Okinawa for a few days, you can easily try many of these local specialties, especially when you combine a few small dishes at an izakaya restaurant and buy snacks to bring home.

And make sure you follow my Okinawa itinerary. I included many travel tips about travelling around the island without a car.

So the big question is – which of these Okinawa food are you interested in trying? Let me know in the comments.

Thank you for reading my Okinawa food guide

You might also like these other posts on solo travel in Japan:

Japanese food

Food around the world

Kyushu region

Like this blog post? Pin it on your Pinterest board!

About Author

Hi, my name is Queenie, and I've been a solo traveller for 20+ years and currently based in Hong Kong. Follow me on my adventures through Instagram and my blog!

2 Comments

  • Rosheila
    September 25, 2023 at 7:19 am

    This was a very helpful read to prepare for my trip to Okinawa. Answered a lot of my food questions. Thanks so much!

    Reply
    • queenie mak
      September 25, 2023 at 11:37 am

      Hi Rosheila,
      Aw thank you! I hope you can try many of the local food – I thought everything was really good especially Okinawa soba and all the different stir-fry. Wish I can go back soon! Enjoy your trip to Okinawa! 🙂

      Reply

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.