Summer always reminds us of fun family holidays in Okinawa. Besides the sunshine and beachy vibes, this tropical Japanese prefecture is all good eating. Without further ado, we present you with our guide to the four Okinawan foods we just can’t get enough of.
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Photo credit: EN Okinawa
Although bitter gourd may not sound like the most appetising vegetable out there, local Okinawans appreciate it for its nutritional value. It has twice the calcium of spinach and plenty of fibre (just in case you’re travelling and are in need of some extra fibre in your diet *winkwink*). In Okinawa, bitter gourd is usually stir-fried with other ingredients such as egg or pork.
Sea grapes (umibudou)
Photo credit: uds.gnst.jp
These delicate gems plucked from the turquoise waters of Okinawa charm the tongue as soon as they burst in the mouth. Sea grapes, or green caviar, are usually farmed on the Okinawan island of Miyako and are traditionally served with vinegar or soy sauce or as a part of a don (Japanese rice bowl).
Photo credit: EN Okinawa
Aguu refers to the particular kind of black-haired pigs raised in Okinawa. A full-grown Aguu pig is comparatively smaller than pigs bred in Western countries, yet its slow growth rate is what makes its meat so flavourful, sweet and tender – a treasure for Japanese-cuisine lovers. In Okinawa, try Aguu pork grilled simply with lemon and salt or stir-fried with ginger.
Photo credit: dinemagazine.ca
Part of the Yaeyama Islands archipelago, Ishigaki is well known for its temperate climate all year-round, and its lush, green fields provide the best breeding grounds for Wagyu, a prized breed of Japanese cattle, with prices to match. Enjoy Ishigaki Wagyu raw – as sashimi – or as part of a teppanyaki feast.
Okinawan restaurants in Hong Kong
Photo credit: yoyo~~~~
A cosy izakaya in Tsim Tsha Tsui, EN serves Okinawan specialities including stir-fried bitter gourd with pork and Okinawa Wagyu beef, crab and pork shabu-shabu.
1/F, Golden Dragon Centre, 38–40 Cameron Road, TST, 3428 2500
Photo credit: amanda.ks.kwok
As a hidden gem in busy Causeway Bay, Rakuen, a sister restaurant of EN (above), provides diners with the unique Okinawan delights of sea grapes, homemade peanut-flavoured tofu and Aguu pork dumplings.
12/F, 28 Tung Lung Street, Causeway Bay, 3580 8858
Photo credit: KarenLeung3995
Located in Taikoo Shing, Naha presents a selection of homey Okinawan dishes such as sautéed bitter gourd, seaweed tempura and more of those sea grapes we love.
Shop G1015, G/F, Yiu Sing Mansion, Stage 10, Taikoo Shing, Tai Koo, 2186 6969