Similar to Tokyo’s Tsukiji Fish Market, heading to the Makishi Public Market means you’re looking for fresh local seafood. They do sell other things, but if it’s sashimi you want, good sashimi you’ll get. What you want to do here is to order food on the first floor and have the restaurants on the second floor prepare it. It does cost extra to have them prepare anything. Quite frankly if you’re only getting sashimi, you’re basically paying for a seat.
For us, we wanted a few cooked dishes. The place we picked charged us ¥500 and had a recommendation on which fish vendor to visit. This is common and I don’t think one place does this better than another. Or at least, that’s what I like to think given the food preparation is simple. We choose a place given the atmosphere, fun and lively, but not too crowded. We talked over how it all worked then went downstairs. There were about ten different shops to visit and surprisingly they had Mandarin speaking workers. They must get a fair share of Chinese tourists. Once we went through everything we wanted to try, we let them know which restaurant we would be at. After paying we went upstairs and waited. The food came out within ten minutes. First was the sashimi which was no surprise. The workers behind the counter were focused on preparing sashimi. And no, this isn’t the type of place you want handcrafted nigiri. This was local eating.
The restaurant staff was attentive for the lunch crowd. There was only one but she was effective catering about seven large parties. All we needed extra to the meal were the beers, Orion beer that is. I was a happy camper after this meal.
Makishi Public Market (第一牧志公設市場)
2 Chome-10-1 Matsuo
Naha, Okinawa Prefecture 900-0014, Japan
Verdict: If you check it out, be a little patient and check out prices at all the shops.
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.