You can’t avoid Okinawa Soba if you wanted to on this island. Everywhere you turn, you’ll see a shop serving up this classic that you probably never seen outside of Japan. Not sure why this local dish hasn’t made it to the popup scene. Maybe that’s a good thing. Let’s keep this local secret here. And whenever I want another bowl, I’ll just have to come back to the Ryukyu Islands. I don’t mind, really.
There’s a whole bit of history behind this bowl of noodles, including its misclassification as a soba noodle. But putting that aside, it’s a lighter noodle soup than its close relative, ramen. Made with pork as its primary protein along with the pork broth, you’d expect the bowl to be overpowering, but it was nothing like that. It was perfect, especially when you’re dealing with the summer heat.
Although, in a span of seven days I’ve had about five meals that involved Okinawa Soba, I’m only going to highlight three. Not like the others were bad. These were the eye opening belly happy places that if you could only pick one, I’d say try one of these. I mean that’s why you’re here reading this right?
Hamaya Soba (浜屋そば)
2-99 Miyagi, Nakagami
Chatan, Okinawa Prefecture 904-0113, Japan
This was my favorite place. It was the third helping of soba for the week and instead of getting overloaded, I got re-energized over the stuff. It actually felt more like “Why didn’t I eat here all week?” I happened to be snorkeling right by the restaurant along the Sunabe Seawall and looked up this place for a post swim meal. What a find!
The place is foreigner friendly with their signs, menus, and staff. And I guess it must be pretty popular because a film crew was on location filming the kitchen. Not a bad sign. So how was the bowl? Simply delicious. Even on a hot day I found myself finishing the bowl completely. I guess I needed to stay hydrated. I can’t say the same for the jushi rice. Only able to get through half of it before deciding not to stuff myself.
Must go! Get some snorkeling in while you’re out here.
1 Chome-6-10 Ameku
Naha, Okinawa Prefecture 900-0005, Japan
Now this was the first place I had Okinawa Soba. It was nearby where I was staying by so I stopped by. It had a small coffee shop feel. A small space for you and your friends to stop by and get a bowl of noodles. It’s self serve when it comes to getting water, but I was there to try out this much talked about bowl of goodness. After trying out all types of soba throughout the week, I had to place this on the list. They delivered a solid rendition of this classic.
They’re situated behind a shopping center and difficult to get to without a car. Parking is on the other side of the street (in case you can’t read Japanese).
If you happen to be close by and don’t want to deal with tourists and crowds. Don’t go too late because they did run out of their jushi rice.
473 Kina, Nakagami District
Yomitan, Okinawa Prefecture 904-0302, Japan
We were on the hunt for beni-imo (purple sweet potato) soba noodles, but we arrived late and they were out. However, they had something else for us to try, a bowl of Okinawa Soba made with green noodles. That was interesting to try and write about. Because of the creativity, it made the list. Sure there’s the purple noodles to try next time, but to keep within the theme of this post, it’s about the noodle soup, which surprisingly enough was good.
This restaurant was had English menus which helped in the service department for ordering food. However, the rest is up to you if you wanted water or tea. They have a machine which you need to know a bit of Japanese or even Chinese to use. Keep that Google translate close at hand.
Swing by for beautiful photos of food that won’t leave your tummy disappointed.
When I first saw this bowl I was like "that's it?" I guess I'm so used to ordering the pho special which has way too much stuff in it. For this bowl, this was all I needed. Soup, protein, and noodles. And it all worked. I didn't want to judge my first bowl but by the end of the week, I knew this place made a solid bowl.
¥630 for a small bowl
What is it about this bowl that makes it so good? Well, look how beautiful that looks. The pork belly was so tasty and balanced with the chewy noodles. Then the light broth cleans your palate with every bite. Then you alternate with the eggs or pork riblets to keep yourself interested until you realize that you finished your bowl. Trust me, you'll be wondering if you should order another bowl or come back the next day.
¥680 for a large bowl.
The name may throw you off but the image surely didn't. I didn't know what these noodles were until I looked up the translation. Rest assured they are healthier versions of the regular wheat noodles. They've been fortified to give you a healthy dose of vitamins and minerals without sacrificing on taste. This bowl is packed with so much food that it barely had room for the broth. The choice of herbal greens threw me off with it's bitterness though.
¥810 for the set and upgrade of noodles.
I stopped by one of the shops around soba-kaido, "soba road." It was okay but had no real distinction and of course, it was catered to the tourists heading the aquarium and priced for a one time visit. I'd recommend getting recommendations from locals or even this site if you want a tastier experience.
¥850 for a set.
If you want to add some excitement to your bowl, you can always add this blend of chillis soaked in awamori. Not a bad way to change things up. given the heat though, I didn't try too much of this.
Here's the seasoned rice that usually comes with your set. They all make a decent compliment to your meal adding a different texture profile and taste to your meal. There wasn't really one that stood above any other. Maybe I was too focused on my yummy bowl of noodles.