What to Eat and Drink

Crave - - TRAVEL -

Awamori

A na­tive va­ri­ety of shochu spirit, en­joyed is­land-wide – although it’s less pop­u­lar among young peo­ple. Join the lo­cals and try it tav­ern-style at the iza­kaya Jizake Yoko­cho on Koku­sai Street. An English menu makes it easy to nav­i­gate the re­spected se­lec­tion of awamori and de­li­cious food, and there’s live folk mu­sic most nights.

Shima Dofu

Although tofu in Ja­pan dif­fers from area to area, there are two broad va­ri­eties: smooth kin­u­goshi dofu and firmer mo­men dofu. Ok­i­nawa’s fa­mous shima dofu, which lit­er­ally trans­lates as “is­land tofu”, is sim­i­lar to mo­men dofu, though the recipe and flavour dif­fer. Try it at Kaiyou Shoku­dou.

Pork Belly

Pop­u­lar around the world, pork belly gets an un­usual treat­ment in Ok­i­nawa. White miso and Ok­i­nawan brown su­gar feature strongly in lo­cal dishes, pro­vid­ing a unique flavour that over­lays quin­tes­sen­tial Ja­panese in­gre­di­ents. Try it at Urizun.

Bit­ter melon in Goya Cham­puru

Highly nu­tri­tious goya (bit­ter melon) is eaten year-round in an iconic Ok­i­nawan dish called cham­puru. It is his­tory on a plate, com­bin­ing the healthy na­tive veg­etable with Spam, the US canned meat in­tro­duced dur­ing the Sec­ond World War. A favourite of taxi driv­ers and con­struc­tion work­ers, Mikado serves the dirt­i­est, most au­then­tic ver­sion of the dish.

Shikuwasa

There are nu­mer­ous South­east Asian ver­sions of this small green-skinned citrus, in­clud­ing cala­mansi and Tai­wanese tan­ger­ine. The shikuwasa is revered for its al­leged cancer-fight­ing prop­er­ties. Spend an hour at Shikuwasa Park in the Ku­nigami Park area, ex­plor­ing the small scale shikuwasa pro­cess­ing fa­cil­ity that pro­duces a va­ri­ety of prod­ucts from the citrus fruit, such a de­li­ciously tart, savoury dress­ing ideal to take home as a sou­venir or gift.

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