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Because of its tropical atmosphere, Okinawa has become a popular destination for tourists both from Japan and abroad. The island is also home to a lot of attractions, as well as a plethora of gastronomic destinations. This article will feature the top 15 restaurants in Okinawa as recommended by top Japanese chefs. If you are heading to Okinawa but not sure where to go, this might help you decide.
1. Asian Herb Restaurant Cafe Kurukuma (Nanjo-shi)
Yasumitsu Ueshiro of "Forest Cafe Junon" selected the restaurant's authentic Thai curry and original curry as a must-try exquisite dish. Aside from that, they also have [Kurukuma Special (1,570 JPY)], an assortment of chicken, beef and pork in 3 curry varieties. The essential herbs that they use for Thai cuisine are harvested from the restaurant-owned herb garden, so you can surely enjoy a generous serving of it in every dish you order. Another must-try is the [Tom Yum Goong (1,250 JPY)], a hot and sour Thai soup with assorted seafoods and fresh herbs. Its soup is spicy yet rich tasting; thanks to the generous serving of coconut milk and various herbs.
Asian Herb Restaurant Cafe Curcuma (Nanjo-shi)
Open: [Monday, Wednesday-Sunday, National Holidays, Day before National Holidays] Spring - Summer (April - September) 10:00 am - 8:00 pm (L.O. 7:00 pm), Fall - Winter (October - March) 10:00 am - 7:00 pm (L.O. 6:00 pm)
[Tuesday] 10:00 am - 6:00 pm (L.O. 5:00 pm)
Average price: [Dinner] 2,000 JPY /[Lunch] 1,000 JPY
Address: 1190, Aza Chinen, Chinen, Nanjo-shi, Okinawa (Map)
2. TRATTORIA Lamp (Naha-shi)
Serving authentic Italian cuisine, Trattoria Lamp is standing in a good location a few minutes away by foot from the Prefectural Office Station on Yui Rail (Okinawa Urban Monorail). According to Tsuyoshi Nakamura of "Ryukyu Dining Hanafu", the restaurant's dishes showcase the natural flavor of each ingredient. Some examples would be sautéed dishes and Carpaccio (dish of thinly-sliced and pounded raw fish) using "shichumachi" (known as aodai or blue fusilier), a type of white fish known for its umami (Japanese savory taste) without the fishy smell, often eaten as sashimi. [Medici-style Spaghetti] with winged beans and beef shank is also popular among diners. You will be able to enjoy these dishes if you try their [Course of the Day].
TRATTORIA Lamp (Naha-shi)
Open: [Monday - Saturday] 6:00 pm - 12:00 am (L.O. 11:00 pm)
Closed: Sunday and every 3rd Monday of the month
Average price: 8,001 JPY - 9,000 JPY
Address: 1-A, Kure Mansion, 1-7-3, Matsuyama, Naha-shi, Okinawa (Map)
Source: hitosara (Japanese)
3. Yakiniku Honpo Shimagyu (Naha-shi)
Shimagyu is known for its yakiniku (Japanese BBQ) and dishes made with Okinawan Wagyu (a type of high-quality beef / cattle) and Agu pork, a premium Okinawan pork brand. In fact, Tsukasa Chinen of "Bishokubo Yuzuki Naha" was all praise for the restaurant for offering dishes using good quality meat at reasonable prices. One of their specialty dishes is the [Agu Shabu-shabu (1 person for 1,580 JPY plus tax, minimum of 2 orders)] as diners can enjoy the goodness of Agu pork brought by its good marbling that condensed the umami and sweetness of the meat. Another popular item, albeit limited during lunch time, is the [Agu Hamburg Teishoku (850 JPY plus tax)] (set meal with Agu pork hamburg steak).
Yakiniku Honpo Shimagyu (Naha-shi)
Open: [Weekdays] Lunch 11:30 am - 2:00 pm (L.O. 1:30 pm), Dinner 5:00 pm - 12:00 am (L.O. 11:00 pm)
Average price: [Dinner] 3,000 JPY / [Lunch] 750 JPY
Address: 2-4-15, Matsuyama, Naha-shi, Okinawa (Map)
4. En Okinawa (Naha-shi)
En Okinawa is known for its gastronomic dishes with generous servings of ingredients from the sea and mountains of Okinawa. Naohiro Asato of "Nanpou Gakushu Kan" even said that the restaurant serves dishes using good-quality and well-marbled Okinawan Motobu beef and Agu pork at an affordable price. Aside from mainly serving dishes made with A5 to A4 grade Motobu beef and premium Agu pork, they use high-quality, young Yanbaru chicken for their chicken-based dishes. If dining in, experience Okinawa's finest through [Ichibo Sumibi-yaki (from 3,220 JPY plus tax)] (charcoal-grilled A4-A5 Grade Okinawan Wagyu).
En Okinawa (Naha-shi)
5. DINING Hana (Naha-shi)
Located on the busy Kokusai Street, DINING Hana is well-known for its [Ishigaki Beef Aburi Sushi (6 pieces for 1,600 JPY plus tax)], a type of sushi where the meat is partially grilled. The restaurant owner himself recommends the dish, and even Shogo Miyagi of "Sazae San" said that the shoyu (soy sauce)-based special sauce tastes so good that it brings out the beef's umami. Also, eating the dish allows diners to enjoy the rich texture and umami of Ishigaki Island-raised A4 grade Ishigaki beef. Aside from meat, they also have seafood dishes like [Asa to Ebi no Kakiage (850 JPY plus tax)] (tempura made with Okinawa-raised sea lettuce and shrimps), which go very well with liquor.
DINING Hana (Naha-shi)
Open: [Weekdays] 5:00 pm - 1:00 am (L.O. 12:00 am)
Closed: Sunday (will open if national holiday falls on a Monday)
Average price: 4,000 JPY
Address: 1F, Riverside Yabe, 2-18-21, Kumoji, Naha-shi, Okinawa (Map)
6. Shunsen Ryori Arata (Naha-shi)
Arata is known for serving dishes made with fugu (blowfish), a famous high-class fish that represents one of the tastes associated with the winter season. It is not commonly offered in restaurants around Okinawa. It is best enjoyed during winter when the flavor of the fugu is at its best, and one must-try dish to appreciate it is the [Ikifugu Ippon Zukushi (15,800 JPY plus tax)]. It is a luxurious full-course meal featuring various dishes made with tora-fugu (tiger puffer), the finest variety of blowfish. You can have it all: parboiled, thinly-sliced into sashimi, deep-fried, and even as tecchiri (boiled) with zosui (rice porridge with vegetables) served last. However, for meat lovers, [Kobe Beef Steak (1,800 JPY plus tax)] is the best dish to order. It has soft, melt-in-your-mouth texture and rich umami.
Shunsen Ryori Arata (Naha-shi)
Open: [Weekdays, Saturday] 5:00 pm - 11:30 pm (L.O. 11:00 pm)
Closed: Sunday (will close consecutively on Sunday and Monday if national holiday falls on a Monday)
Average price: 5,000 JPY
Address: B1F, Hotel Maruki, 3-20-5, Kumoji, Naha-shi, Okinawa (Map)
7. Sushi Isuke (Naha-shi)
Known for their Edomae style sushi that showcase the skill of their sushi chefs, Isuke is reviewed by Yoshinobu Tobaru of ""Shunsen Ryori Arata"" as the best place to go to when dining with loved ones. Made with seasonal neta (ingredients of sushi) airlifted from other parts of Japan including Tsukiji Market in Tokyo, Hokkaido and Fukuoka, diners can be sure that every piece of sushi has an authentic Edomae taste.
In addition, [Kohada] (a type of sushi, made with kohada or gizzard shad) is something that you should not miss, as it will showcase the ultimate skill of every sushi chef. Have a bite and you will surely admire the fine, clear taste of the fish which is only possible through careful work. Aside from that, they also have usual nigiri zushi pieces such as [Anago] (made with saltwater eels) and [Tamago] (made with Japanese omelette). Enjoy every piece of sushi to your heart's content!
Sushi Isuke (Naha-shi)
Open: [Weekdays, Saturday, National Holiday, Day before National Holidays] 6:30 pm - 12:00 am (L.O. 11:00 pm)
Average price: 10,000 JPY
Address: 3-1-1, Wakasa, Naha-shi, Okinawa (Map)
8. Japanese Restaurant [Mahae] The Naha Terrace (Naha-shi)
Mahae features Kaiseki cuisine (Japanese banquet cuisine with alcohol) made with generous servings of seasonal ingredients. According to Satoshi Nakazato of "Ryukyu Dining Matsuo" (Okashigoten, Kokusai Street Matsuo Branch), the restaurant features the best of both Okinawa and mainland Japan as they serve Kaiseki cuisine (traditional Japanese course cuisine with tea) and Okinawan cuisine. The restaurant's flagship item, [Yoru no Kaiseki Ryori (Japanese banquet cuisine with alcohol)], is definitely a must-try as it features different kinds of dishes every month. It is made with seasonal ingredients sourced locally and from other parts of Japan. Also, if you are going for lunch, you can try their [Shokado Bento (3,300 JPY)], a Kaiseki cuisine (traditional Japanese course cuisine with tea)-inspired bento traditionally packed in a partitioned lacquered box.
Japanese Restaurant [Mahae] The Naha Terrace (Naha-shi)
Open: Lunch 11:30 am - 2:30 pm, Dinner 6:00 pm - 10:00 pm (L.O. 9:30 pm), Breakfast 7:00 am - 10:00 am
Average price: [Dinner] 6,200 JPY / [Lunch] 2,500 JPY
Address: 2-14-1, Omoro-machi, Naha-shi, Okinawa (Map)
9. Matsumoto Agu Shabu-shabu (Naha-shi)
Shabu-shabu is a hot pot dish made of sliced meat cooked in hot, boiling dashi (broth) and best enjoyed with goma-dare (sesame sauce). Although beef is commonly used for this dish, the restaurant offers shabu-shabu using the famous Okinawan Agu pork. Their classic dish [Agu Shabu-shabu Set (5,000 JPY)] is a great set meal as it has a serving of Okinawan mozuku (type of Okinawan seaweed), sea grapes, vegetables and ojiya (zosui) in addition to the Agu pork. And since Agu pork is known for its good marbling and umami, it is perfect for pairing with Awamori, an Okinawan jizake (local alcohol).
Matsumoto Agu Shabu-shabu (Naha-shi)
Open: [Weekdays, Saturday, National Holiday, Day before National Holidays] 5:30 pm - 10:30 pm (L.O. 10:00 pm)
Closed: None (But will close at beginning and end of the year)
Average price: 6,000 JPY
Address: 1, Matsuyama Garden Bldg., 1-7-1, Matsuyama, Naha-shi, Okinawa (Map)
10. Sazae San (Naha-shi)
If you love shellfish dishes and good wine, this restaurant is the best place to go to. Their best-selling [Hama-yaki (2 large shellfish at 1,980 JPY (plus tax))] features [Live Clams] and [Live Horned Turban] from Kyushu and [Live Scallops] from Aomori-ken, taken out of the tank only when ordered. They are grilled simply so you can enjoy the tender juicy texture and umami. In addition, Hiromichi Nakamura of "Yakiniku Yumemaru Furujima branch" was all praise for [Shirasu and Karasumi Peperoncino (1,280 JPY)] (pasta in garlic and olive oil with whitebaits and salted mullet roe) for its exquisite taste and food presentation.
Sazae San (Naha-shi)
Open: [Weekdays, Saturday, National Holiday, Day before National Holidays] 5:00 pm - 11:00 pm (L.O. 10:30 pm)
Average price: 4,000 JPY
Address: 1F, MK Bldg., Kumoji, Naha-shi, Okinawa (Map)
11. Sushi Dokoro Motoi (Naha-shi)
With no signage and totally covered from the outside, Motoi is available on a reservation-only basis so diners can enjoy themselves in a totally private environment. Keizo Inoue from "CAILLOUX.BLANCS KEIZO" says the restaurant has a luxurious and comfortable feel despite being in a small space with only 8 counter seats. In addition, their sushi chefs are trained in a famous sushi restaurant in Ginza, so you can be sure that their traditional Edomae sushi has an authentic taste. Enjoy each piece of their luxurious sushi to your heart's content; it is made with various seafoods such as kohada (gizzard shad), kuruma-ebi (Japanese tiger prawn), and hamaguri (orient clam) soaked in dashi overnight.
Sushi Dokoro Motoi (Naha-shi)
Open: [Weekdays, Saturday] From 6:30 pm *May change if there are reservations
Closed: Sunday, National Holidays
Average price: 15,000 JPY
Address: 1F, Nishi Okisho Mansion, 1-5-8, Nishi, Naha-shi, Okinawa (Map)
12. Nouvelle Dining Green (Naha-shi)
Built as a stand-alone house, Nouvelle Dining Green is a French restaurant standing in a corner of a quiet residential area. Naohiro Asato from "Nanpou Gakushu Kan" recommends [Sautéed Beef Fillet (1,000 JPY)] because of its soft texture complemented by the ginger sauce, as well as its refreshing taste brought out by wasabi. For à la carte, the best dish to order is the rich-flavored [Sautéed Foie Gras in Balsamic Vinegar (1,080 JPY plus tax)]. The rich umami of foie gras goes very well with the acidity of balsamic vinegar.
Nouvelle Dining Green (Naha-shi)
Open: [Weekdays, Day before National Holidays] Lunch 11:00 am - 3:00 pm (L.O. 2:30 pm)
[Saturday, Sunday] Lunch 11:00 am - 3:30 pm (L.O. 3:00 pm)
[Monday - Thursday] Dinner 5:30 pm - 12:00 am (L.O. 11:30 pm)
[Friday, Saturday] Dinner 5:30 pm - 1:00 am (L.O. 12:30 am)
Closed: Sunday, National Holidays *Restaurant is open for lunch on Sundays
Average price: [Dinner] 3,000 JPY / [Lunch] 980 JPY
Address: 1-6-23, Ameku, Naha-shi, Okinawa (Map)
13. Vegetable＆Oyster unosuke (Naha-shi)
Being a restaurant that first gained popularity as the first oyster bar in Okinawa, unosuke offers dishes made with seasonal oysters in a relaxing, casual dining atmosphere. Their oysters are sourced from all over the country, so diners can enjoy them all throughout the season. According to Ryo Taira of "Nouvelle Dining Green", he is always looking forward to the restaurant's daily lineup as it features different dishes everyday. If not sure about what to order, try their [Kaki Zanmai (2,400 JPY)], (seasonal oysters prepared in three varieties: raw, steamed and baked). Two pieces are prepared for each variety, so you can fully enjoy its rich taste and tender texture.
Vegetable＆Oyster unosuke (Naha-shi)
Open: [Tuesday - Saturday, National Holidays, Day before National Holidays] 6:00 pm - 1:00 am (L.O. 12:00 am)
[Sunday] 6:00 pm - 11:00 pm
Average price: 4,000 JPY
Address: 2-18-33, Makishi, Naha-shi, Okinawa
14. Pine Tree Bless T Galleria branch (Naha-shi)
This huge luxury restaurant is located on the 3rd floor of T Galleria By DFS, which is directly connected to the Yui Rail at Omoromachi Station. Its interior is divided into two: one area is for their bar and lounge and the other is for the restaurant, so diners can dine or drink depending on their mood and need. One of their best-selling dishes is the [Roasted U.S. Premium Sirloin (1,600 JPY for 100 g (plus tax))], but it is limited to just 20 orders per day. Hiromichi Nakamura of "Yakiniku Yumemaru Furujima branch" had the chance to taste the dish, and he said that he loved the soft texture and rich taste of the high-quality rib meat.
Pine Tree Bless T Galleria branch (Naha-shi)
Open: Lunch 11:00 am - 3:00 pm
[Monday - Thursday, Sunday] Dinner 6:00 pm - 10:00 pm (L.O. 9:00 pm)
[Friday, Saturday] Dinner 6:00 pm - 11:00 pm (L.O. 10:00 pm)
Average price: [Dinner] 8,000 JPY / [Lunch] 2,000 JPY
Address: 3F, T Galleria Okinawa, 4-1, Omoromachi, Naha-shi, Okinawa (Map)
15. Restaurant St.Vincent (Naha-city)
Located near Omoromachi in Naha Shintoshin, St.Vincent is known for serving French cuisine made with locally produced ingredients and wines in a homely atmosphere. Their wines are examined by the owner himself, who also happens to be a sommelier (wine expert). In addition, Shinya Matsuda of "Petite Etoile Hermitage Restaurant" said that the restaurant is the best place to visit for those who are looking forward to enjoying a delicious wine. As for dishes, they have [Dinner Course B (6,500 JPY)], as well as other satisfying must-try à la carte dishes such as [Fresh Fish Carpaccio (2,100 JPY)] and [Duck Thigh Confit (2,000 JPY)] (slow-cooked preserve of duck thigh meat).
Restaurant St.Vincent (Naha-city)
Open: [Weekdays, Saturday, National Holiday, Day before National Holidays] Lunch 12:00 pm - 2:30 pm (L.O. 1:30 pm), Dinner 6:00 pm - 10:30 pm (L.O. 9:30 pm)
Closed: Sunday ※Will be temporary closed for two days every month
Average price: 4,000 JPY
Address: 2F, Urban Planet Bldg., 2-4-35, Mekari, Naha-shi, Okinawa (Map)
Although most of the restaurants in the article are located in Naha, there are still a lot of restaurants on the islands of Okinawa that pride themselves on the quality of their food. Why not enjoy exploring more of them as you go sightseeing?