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A person holding a large cup of Okinawa milk tea in the middle of the street.
A person holding a large cup of Okinawa milk tea in the middle of the street.

Okinawa Milk Tea and More: Six Great Delicacies!

Thuy FangThuy Fang
Published Time
Posted on June 30, 2023

The beautiful Okinawa islands of Japan are famous for their splendid beaches and rich and delicious cuisine. And Okinawa milk tea is no exception, always highly sought after by bubble tea fans worldwide. In addition to Okinawa milk tea, we want to introduce this enchanting island’s five most renowned dishes. 

Okinawa Milk Tea

People worldwide enjoy Okinawa milk tea, a favorite bubble milk tea originating from Japan’s southernmost island. Despite its popularity, many people need clarification on Okinawa milk tea with its cousin, Hokkaido milk tea, which originates from northern Japan.

It differs from Hokkaido milk tea. The key distinction lies in using kokuto, a special cane sugar unique to Okinawa, giving the tea its distinct flavor. Made with milk, Assam black tea, and black pearls, this milk tea offers a harmonious blend of flavors, combining the bitterness of kokuto with the creamy richness of milk.

A large cup of Okinawa milk tea with tapioca.
Okinawa milk tea uses kokuto or brown sugar. Image via Shutterstock

When it comes to health, Okinawa milk tea has some advantages. Kokuto has a better nutritional profile than regular brown sugar, although it still adds carbohydrates to the drink. Additionally, the caffeine content in this drink is lower than that of coffee, ranging from 20 to 30 mg per serving.

Finding Okinawa milk tea is convenient in Japan, as it is available in convenience stores, supermarkets, and boba tea shops. You can purchase instant powder versions online from platforms like Amazon or eBay if you’re outside of Japan. 

Moreover, many boba tea shops in the U.S. also offer Okinawa milk tea, receiving positive reviews from customers. You can enjoy Okinawa milk tea as a cozy or refreshing beverage and personalize the flavor by adding fruit, jellies, or herbs to enhance your experience.

Chinsuko (Cookies)

Chinsuko is a traditional Okinawan sweet with a fascinating background. Being derived from the Okinawan word for “sweets,” combined with “rare” or “gold,” its name reflects its historical connection with the Ryukyu Kingdom’s royalty and nobility. 

These cookies are made simply with flour, sugar, and pork lard, drawing inspiration from Chinese and European treats. And the popularity of chinsuko grew during the Meiji Era and became a sought-after souvenir due to its long shelf life.

A plate of chinsuko cookies.
Chinsuko cookies are delicious biscuits that use snow salt! Image via Shutterstock

When you bite into chinsuko, you’ll experience a delightful mix of flavors and textures. Its crumbly texture, gentle sweetness, and subtle saltiness from the snow salt of Miyakojima Island (the fourth largest island in Okinawa) create a perfect balance. Locals and tourists love chinsuko, enjoyed alone or with your favorite tea.

Chinsuko is not just a sweet treat; it symbolizes Okinawa’s rich history and multicultural heritage. Its timeless and unchallenging recipe represents Okinawa’s openness to different cultures. Whether you buy it as a souvenir or make it at home, chinsuko’s simplicity and delightful flavors will always make it a beloved choice for all.

Are you looking to enjoy even more tasty treats from Japan’s hotspots like Okinawa? Check out TokyoTreat! TokyoTreat delivers the latest Japanese snacks, sweets, drinks, candy, and noodles from Japan directly to your door!

Taco Rice 

Okinawa taco rice is a yummy fusion dish that combines American tacos and Japanese rice. It originated in Okinawa after World War II, influenced by the presence of the U.S. military.

When it comes to taste, taco rice is simply excellent. The seasoned ground beef provides a savory and slightly spicy kick that pairs perfectly with the rice. The combination of fresh vegetables adds a refreshing crunch, while the cheese adds a creamy and indulgent element. It’ll be an excellent way to add extra flavors and texture to every bite if we top this satisfying meal with classic taco garnishes like cheese, tomatoes, lettuce, and cilantro.

A plate of taco rice, which pairs well with Okinawa Milk Tea
Taco rice is an American, Mexican and Okinawan fusion cuisine. Image via Shutterstock

An interesting fact about this dish is its widespread popularity in Okinawa. It has become a beloved food among both locals and military personnel. It accurately represents the blending of cultures and showcases how food can bring people together.

What makes taco rice even more remarkable is its adaptability. Some versions feature an onsen egg or are served in a stone bowl for a formal presentation. Whether you enjoy it for breakfast, lunch, or dinner, Okinawa taco rice will be a flavorful and satisfying choice that celebrates the best of both American and Japanese cuisines. 

Goya Champuru

Okinawa’s goya champuru is a simple yet popular stir-fry dish throughout Japan. The “champuru,” from the Okinawan dialect, means “something mixed.” Thus, the name reflects the dish’s nature of combining various ingredients. Indeed, this local food combines bitter melon, tofu, pork belly, and eggs for a flavorful and nutritious meal.

A plate of Goya Champuru.
Goya is bitter melon, which is an acquired taste. Image via Shutterstock

In terms of flavor, goya champuru conveys an outstanding balance. The savory notes of other ingredients complement the bitterness of the goya. It’s a harmonious blend that offers a refreshing and pleasant taste experience.

Furthermore, goya champuru’s numerous health benefits make it even more remarkable. The star ingredient, bitter melon, is rich in antioxidants like Vitamins C and A, so it’s said to be great for maintaining healthy skin and fighting aging. Besides, it may also lower cholesterol levels which is not only a better blood sugar control for people with diabetes but prevention for potential cancer as well. 

Sata Andagi (Okinawa Doughnut)

Sata andagi, also known as Okinawan doughnuts, has a fascinating origin that dates back to Southern China. When fried, the round balls develop cracks on the surface, resembling smiley faces or blooming flowers. Therefore, these doughnuts are considered lucky and usually enjoyed during happy birthday parties. Also, sata andagi is seen as a symbol of women in Okinawa because they resemble tulips, a feminine symbol in the culture.

A plate of Sata Andagi, or Okinawa doughnuts, which pair well with Okinawa milk tea.
Sata Andagi are traditional Okinawan doughnuts. Image via Shutterstock

Beyond the cultural significance, sata andagi doughnuts are simply tasty. After frying, the outside turns crispy and golden brown, while the inside remains light and cake-like. They are widely available in Okinawa, in small kiosks, and specialty stores throughout the region. Several sata andagi shops offer a variety of flavors of this sweet, such as brown sugar, caramel, chocolate, coffee, and cinnamon.   

Rafute (Juicy Pork Belly)

Rafute is a savory pork belly dish with its roots in Okinawan cuisine. It originated from the famous Chinese dish called dong po rou. The slow-cooking process of rafute results in an incredibly tender pork belly that melts in your mouth. The fat renders a gelatinous texture that makes the meat easily broken apart by chopsticks. 

A plate of rafute, or simmered pork belly.
Simmered pork belly uses black vinegar. Image via Shutterstock

You might wonder about the differences if you’re familiar with kakuni, the Japanese braised pork belly. While they share similarities in appearance and Chinese influence, rafute has the iconic cooking process that sets it apart. With rafute, the pork belly is slow-stewed in sweet soy sauce incorporating Okinawa’s signature ingredients such as pork, brown sugar, and awamori liquor.

These luscious dishes, including Okinawa milk tea, depict exactly the rich culinary heritage of the gorgeous Okinawa Island. They offer us a delightful blend of tastes and cultural influences. Have you ever tried any Okinawan food before? Let us know in the comments below!

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