Ashibiuna, Asia, Blue Seal, Blue Seal Ice Cream, Chanpuru, Daito Soba, Food & Drinks, Izakaya Yunangii, Japan, Makishi Public Market, Naha, Okinawa, Okinawa Cuisine, Pork Belly, Selfish Year, Selfish Years
Due to the strong Chinese and American influences and the tropical climate in Okinawa, Okinawa cuisine is unlike typical Japanese cuisine. We didn’t really see much sushi, ramen, or curry around. Nevertheless, Mr. Selfish and I enjoyed the eclectic food in Okinawa – from the pork belly to the soba to the chanpuru. Here are some of the yummy bites we had in and around Naha.
Blue Seal Ice Cream: Born in America, Raised in Okinawa
Even though Blue Seal was conceived Stateside, it was brought to Okinawa in 1948 along with the American soldiers. It wasn’t until 1976 that Blue Seal opened stores outside of the American bases and on the island proper. I enjoy Blue Seal’s tagline – “Born in America, Raised in Okinawa.”
Blue Seal ice cream is creamy (supposedly the way Americans like it), but the flavors are distinctly Okinawan. In particular, Beni-imo, which is purple sweet potato, is quite popular.
Mr. Selfish and I tried a variety of flavors. I really liked Beni-imo and Ube (sweet purple yam), and Mr. Selfish loved that you could have scoop ice cream with softserve on top. I highly recommend Blue Seal if you visit Naha. Mr. Selfish and I probably went three times during our four days in Okinawa.
Izakaya Yunangii: Delectable Pork Belly
Near our Doubletree hotel in Naha was Izakaya Yunangii (3 Chome-３−３ Kumoji, Naha), which is renowned for its pork belly. Pork belly is one of Okinawa’s specialty dishes. We encountered it everywhere.
Although Yunangii did not have an English menu, our hostess spoke adequate English and showed us the photos of the items that were the most popular.
Mr. Selfish and I sat at the bar and watched the ladies cook. We ordered the pork belly, chanpuru (stir-fry wheat gluten with spam), and squid ink rice.
It was all delicious but the pork belly (per the restaurant’s reputation) was the stand-out winner. It was the most succulent and tender pork belly I have ever had, and the sauce was savory and a perfect accompaniment to the pork. In total, our meal cost 2,450 yen, which was a great deal for the quality of food.
Makishi Public Market: Choose Your Own Fish
I have always wanted to pick seafood from a market and then have a restaurant cook it up for me to eat. I read online that you could do so at the Makishi Public Market, so I dragged Mr. Selfish there.
Mr. Selfish and I wandered around browsing the market and then we happened upon some interesting looking fish. We ended up buying the colorful fish below and a sashimi set.
Our market vendor brought our fish upstairs to a restaurant and instructed them to fry it up for us. Although the sashimi was only average, the fish was fresh and yummy. It was a white fish, and I had a fun time picking through the bones. I’m not sure what kind of fish it was, but it was tasty!
If you’re into seafood like me (Mr. Selfish is not so much), you should visit the Makishi Public Market and have some fresh seafood.
Daito Soba: For Another Okinawan Specialty
Mr. Selfish and I have recently become obsessed with ramen. When I learned that Okinawa had its own type of soba, I knew we had to try it. Okinawan soba is different from the buckwheat noodles served in the rest of Japan. It is made from wheat and is similar in thickness to udon noodles. Also, the broth is more similar to ramen broth, and it is oftentimes served with pork belly.
We visited Daito Soba in downtown Naha to try its soba.
We ordered one bowl of soba and a bowl of rice with pork and an egg (which Mr. Selfish was craving).
The soba was quite good and different than other ones we’ve had. The noodles themselves were home-made and rustic. The broth was much richer than typical, and I loved the pork belly and fish cake. It was also quite cheap. I highly recommend Daito Soba if you’re in Naha and looking to sample one of Okinawa’s signature dishes.
Ashibiuna: Good Food Near Shuri Castle
Finally, Mr. Selfish and I visited Ashibiuna (２−１３ Shuritonokuracho, Naha), which is a good Okinawan restaurant near Shuri Castle. You can either eat inside the restaurant or sit outside, which opens up to a rock garden. Mr. Selfish and I opted for the outdoor seating.
We ordered the chanpuru meal set and a bowl of soba with pork spare ribs and leek.
Our meal came to 1,570 yen, which is a steal! Plus, the food was pretty good – although the soba was not as good as Daito Soba and the chanpuru was not as good as Izakaya Yunangii. But you can’t really beat that price.
Lastly, here are some photos of some shisas we found nearby Ashibiuna.
In our next post, Mr. Selfish will go over our stay at the Ritz-Carlton in Nago, Okinawa.