YANBARU- TRADITIONAL EATS IN OKINAWA
Dieters, what does EVERY foodie want to hear in response to telling someone about their upcoming trip? Well its simple really, whether or not the place is beautiful, full of history or an overall killer tourist destination, we wanna hear that the food is ON POINT. The rest is all fine and dandy, but sorry not sorry we're in it for the EATS. Naturally as my upcoming trip to Okinawa Japan approached, it was music to my ears time and time again when told about their food. Having arrived in Onna Okinawa FAR past my daily dinner time, needless to say we were hangry and faced with the reality that contrary to our fast pace life style in Hong Kong where not only is there no shortage of restaurants they are also open lateee. Seeing as we vouched to stay close to the beach, we were struck with the reality that their might not be anything within walking vicinity to satisfy our growling bellies... With not a soul in site we decided to just start walking... Now thank GOD, just around the corner, we stumbled into what was one of THE BEST meals we had both in Okinawa and Japan overall. Yanbaru Okinawa Cuisine is a family run restaurant serving up traditional Okinawa eats that are not only DELICIOUS but are centred around creating an experience which is simply incredible. Having stumbled into this restaurant unsure of what to expect we were greeted and served by a lovely lady name Junko (the owner and wife to the chef of the restaurant). Having spoken minimal english, Junko did her best to walk us through the menu explaining what the different dishes were and what would be appropriate for the two of us. Unsure exactly what to expect we went for the full-course dinner menu (and then some ;) )and let me tell you it DID NOT disappoint!
First up the aperitifs!
Acerola is a small tree that bears cherry-like fruits. This aperitif was perfectly sweet and a divine start to this gorgeous meal.
Okinawa Sea Grapes
These are AMAZING. The texture and the flavour are unlike any seaweed you've had before. The tiny bubbles burst in your mouth and are oh so delicious when dunked in soy sauce. Perfectly salty and WAY too fun to eat.
Taiken Yushidofu (Okinawa soft tofu)
My apologies for not getting a photo of this bad boy, but I mean, I was a little preoccupied well, MAKING it ;) . This tofu was UNREAL. First off the waitress brings you a pot of soy milk, Nigari water (mineral water) and a timer. Then you cook the soy milk until it is almost boiling, add the water and put the lid on and let it cook for 3 minutes. Then you have this perfectly creamy and delicious soft tofu... UNREAL.
Yanbaru Shimabuta Agu and Kisetsuno Shimayasai Course
This traditional Okinawa steamed Hot Pot (shabu shabu) is absolutely delicious. In order to get this dish perfectly steamed, this agu pork and veg are placed on a bed of bean sprouts. As the bean sprouts cook and let out water, the pork and vegetables are steamed to perfection. This dish was so simple and so delicious. Without sauces or seasoning this meat was packed with flavour and the sweet potato, goya and zucchini were cooked perfectly.
Okinawa Soba with Pork Fat & Garlic Chilli Oil
OH MY WORD, can we just take a moment to appreciate how adorable that pork fat is? These noodles were cooked in this adorable piggy pork fat along with a garlic chilli oil. These noodles were thick, chewy and delicious.
Deep-fried Okinawan Shimabuta Agu Pork
This pork was lightly fried and had nice flavour, but definitely not a standout.
Benimo Uchina Tempura- Purple sweet potato
If you know anything about Okinawa, you will know that they are famous for benimo (purple sweet potato) so obviously we had to try out this tempura! These bad boys were perfectly fried and lightly salted, I think I would have preferred it more if they were a bit thinner, but overall they were very good.
Agu Goya Champuru- Stir fried pork & bitter melon
With goya being another Okinawa signature, you are going to have to give it a try. Now, goya (bitter melon) is definitely aptly names because it is extremely bitter. Although the whole dish was cooked nicely with eggs and pork, the after taste of the goya was a bit strong for my liking.
Yambagu- Agu Pork Hamburger Steak
This hamburger steak was another rockin dish. Served with your choice of egg or cheese, you better believe this beauty is packed with flavour. We vouched for the egg and their were definitely #noregrets.
Okinawa Shio Omusubi (rice balls)
Rice always tastes better in a rice ball.Fact.
Okinawa Doughnuts with Vanilla Ice Cream
OH MY WORD THIS WAS INCREDIBLE. The perfect end to a GORGEOUS meal. These Okinawa style doughnuts were served on Blue Seal Vanilla Ice Cream (which is arguably Okinawas most popular ice cream chain). This ice cream was topped with sesame and soy bean powder along with Okinawa black sugar syrup and it was SO GOOD. The doughnuts were dense and cake like and served hot on top of the ice cream which made for a gloriously melty and delicious ice cream treat.
So dieters, if your heading to Okinawa and looking for some AMAZING authentic Okinawan eats, you better make your way to Yanbaru Okinawa Cuisine!
Yanbaru Okinawa Cuisine- 1288 Serakaki Onna-Son, Kunigami-gun, Onna-son 904-0404, Okinawa Prefecture
You Stay hungry,
And remember, your diet starts tomorrow!