Food, Glorious Food
Ginowan Travel Blog› entry 10 of 14 › view all entries
January 14th, 2008 – by: Chariot13
This is a meal that originated and may only be found on Okinawa. It is white rice with taco beef, lettuce, cheese and salsa. Mexican food is really popular here now, but this dish was created in the 1960s by a local chef who had a restaurant near to one of the Marine bases and decided to create the dish by combining the normal taco ingredients with Japanese white rice.
I'm a fan of taco rice. It's like a little taste of back home, with a Japanese twist.
A Japanese staple and what the country is probably most well-known for. Here they have restaurants that specialize in sushi, some that do many different foods but also have sushi and sashimi on the menu, and places called "sushi-go-rounds". These are more like fast-food sushi places where a chef makes different kinds of sushi and puts pieces on small plates that rotate on a belt around the tables and you can pick off what you want.
So far I've eaten sushi at a sushi-go-round and at a really good izakaya restaurant that we went to over the weekend with Nicole's co-workers from school.
I've eaten a few different types of seaweed here. Mostly I've had the dried kind that they put around sushi or rice balls (yummy), but I've had a slimy pickled kind that they give to you in a little bowl on the side of some of their meal sets, and another kind called Umibudo, or sea grapes.
These are a lunch time staple here and noodle places abound. Here you can order a "set" which will include a type of salad, maybe some seaweed or pickled apricots (ume), a bowl of rice and a noodle soup. These soups usually have a flat soba noodle, some kind of meat - many times pork, as well as cabbage, radishes and other vegetables. They are served in big bowls and are almost too much for lunch.
Soba noodles are also served cold or as yakisoba - a dish that Nicole made for dinner the other night. It's a great staple you can throw anything into with some sauce and heat it in a skillet and voila! In the soba sauce it reminds me of lo-mein.
These are another popular lunchtime meal here. You can buy them at a shop or pack one of your own for a picnic or lunch break. These sets are similar to the noodle soup ones but the main part of the meal is usually tempura chicken or vegetables or some kind of egg dish (at least on Okinawa, I think they are different on mainland). They use a lot of eggs in cooking here, which surprised me, as well as the amount of fried foods they have.
The most popular bento box place I've seen here is Hokka Hokka Tei.
Well, there's a short list of some of the foods you can find here on Okinawa. Also popular are various other types of Asian cuisine - I've noticed Thai, Chinese, Korean and Indian; hamburgers - there is McDonalds, Mos Burger (about 100 times better than McDonalds) and A&W (I swear there are more on Okinawa than must exist in all of the US combined); drink vending machines - they are everywhere and sometimes even dispense things like creamed corn; Starbucks, of course; and good old Japanese rice wine - either in sake form or Awamori, an Okinawan liquor made by distillation instead of brewing. Both will get you good and drunk, especially if you're a foreigner.
Lastly, I want to mention two new foods I found here that I had never heard of before I came to Okinawa. One is called Shikwasa and is a fruit that is a sweet tasting cross between a lemon and a lime. They use it in many sweets here, including pies, tarts, cookies, lemonade and popsicles (a favorite of Nicole and I). The other is a purple sweet potato named Benimo. It is also popular to put into baked goods as well as ice cream and candy. I'm going to miss these when I leave.
The only thing I have to complain about the Okinawan food (besides the amount of salt used) is the lack of available and affordable fresh fruits and vegetables. I suppose since it's winter here, the local produce would not be as easily available and things are expensive to import to a small island. For example one canteloupe costs about $20 in the grocery store!! Apples and watermelon are also on the expensive side. Salads are hard to come by at restaurants and I pine for a large, crisp, green dinner-sized one. Mmmmmm, salad. But besides my need for greenery, I've been having fun exploring the supermarkets and experiencing a new way of eating. I highly recommend it.
Note: The only photo that I took out of the ones posted in this entry is the one of the sushi-go-round.
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