Goya chanpuru (Photo: ymrl / CC BY 2.0)
Goya chanpuru (Photo: ymrl / CC BY 2.0)
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Regional Cuisine - Okinawa

A taste of some of the local foods of Okinawa


A genuine world of their own, the local foods of Okinawa prefecture draw on a deep cultural and historical heritage, finding inspiration through Chinese and Southeast Asian influences. Goya bitter melon finds its way into the prefecture's signature dish, pork is a common ingredient with all parts of the pig used, including the ear and the rib, while the region is also home to a unique wheat noodle dish. Here is a simple guide to some of the regional cuisine of Okinawa.

Goya chanpuru

The signature dish of Okinawa, goya chanpuru is a stir-fry dish featuring the unforgettable flavour of the goya bitter melon. The dish also includes eggs, pork, tofu and seasonings while luncheon meats are a common addition. Colourful and light on the palate, goya chanpuru makes for a unique meal during summer.

Goya chanpuru
Goya chanpuru (Photo: Hajime NAKANO / CC BY 2.0)

Okinawa soba

Okinawa soba is the prefecture's representative noodle. Made from wheat and egg and thus not technically soba, these thick udon-like noodles are served in a ramen-like broth made with pork and bonito stock. The taste, colours and textures are completed with the addition of stewed pork and fish cake, and a garnish of chopped green onion and pickled ginger.

Okinawa soba
Okinawa soba (Photo: nubobo / CC BY 2.0)


Arguably Okinawa's signature pork dish, rafute is a proper melt-in-the-mouth food. Once part of the royal cuisine of the old Ryukyu Kingdom where it was served to visiting dignitaries, rafute is pork rib dish its skin intact and stewed in either in miso or in soy sauce and brown sugar until even the skin becomes extremely tender and soft.

Rafute (Photo: ayustety / CC BY-SA 2.0)


With a texture that is both chewy and crunchy at the same time, mimigaa pig's ear is one of the most curiously well-known of Okinawa's pork dishes. Boiled or pickled and then dressed with vinegar and soy sauce, mimigaa is usually served sliced as a kind of sashimi-style dish and makes for a uniquely enjoyable appetiser.

Mimigaa (Photo: Yoko Nekonomania / CC BY 2.0)

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Elizabeth S 3 years ago
I was in Okinawa one winter holiday, staying in Naha and nearby Zamamijima, and the food was amazing.

On Zamamijima, I had my first bowl of Okinawa soba at Ojisan. And delectable rafute with whipped potato at San-ta (closed now, but it appears the master intends to open again).
Elizabeth S 3 years ago
It's pretty good. The noodles are made from wheat, so they're more like udon than soba. The broth is usually a mix of pork and katsuo, so it's got great umami and fat, and benishoga gives it zip.
Sherilyn Siy 3 years ago
When i feel guilty about eating pork fat, I think of rafute vis-à-vis Okinawan life span
Sleiman Azizi Author 3 years ago
Gary Luscombe 3 years ago
Goya Chanpuru is essentially my signature dish. My mother-in-law is from Okinoerabu, a smaller island near Okinawa, and taught me the family recipe. Unusually, they do not soak the goya first so it stays quite bitter, but is offset by the sweetness of the egg.
Sleiman Azizi Author 3 years ago
Too bitter is too much for me. Mildly bitter is more than enough.
Sander van Werkhoven 3 years ago
At Okinawa they eat every part of the pig except the oink....

I loved how unique Okinawa cuisine was, it really is a world of its own. All of the dishes mentioned are great, and also easy to find at restaurants. I also loved umibodo, jimami dofu and tofoyu. And while not exactly traditional, taco rice is amazing. Also, lets not forget all of the sweets. And obviously wash it all down with some awamori (dangerous stuff....).

The one dish I still want to try is yagisashi, goat sashimi. And I'd love to visit Okinawa more often, if only it wasn't so unbearably hot most of the year....
Sleiman Azizi Author 3 years ago
Every part except the oink... It's a great saying!
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