Hello everyone! Clement from Westcoast here.
For the third entry in my series of Japanese highlights, I would like to talk about something else I never experienced until going to Japan. Okinawa cuisine.
Vancouver has many types of cuisine from all over the world. However, one thing it is missing is more local regional cuisine from in certain countries. For example, though we have an uncountable amount of Japanese restaurants, restaurants that specialize in a specific regional style of food do not appear to be plentiful. one prime example is Okinawan cuisine.
Okinawa, the most southern prefecture in Japan, has a culinary style and flavour that is very unique to that region. While in Japan, I had the chance to visit an Okinawan restaurant, and the atmosphere and food combined to create a unique and unforgettable experience.
The first thing I noticed immediately upon entering the restaurant was the lack of standard restaurant tables or chairs. Instead, meals are eaten at low tables, with tatami mats for seating. While I have known about this, experiencing this for the first time is something very different, but still very eye opening for me as someone who has never experienced this traditional Japanese style of dining.
The dishes I had a chance to try were varied and tasty. Goya Champuru, Jima Ami Tofu and Umibudo were just some of the things I sampled, and each was very delicious and different. I discovered that Okinawan cuisine has a very different taste than mainland Japanese cuisine, and is very similar to some other parts of Asia in that region, further to the south of Japan. The unique combination of seasonings and ingredients provided a very different taste than what I am used to, but it was very enjoyable and makes me wish there were Okinawan restaurants in Vancouver!
However, the atmosphere and energy were what made the experience even more memorable! The live entertainment was energetic and fun, and clinking glasses with other people in the restaurant not from your table was another new experience. But the most amazing thing was being greeted as I walked into the restaurant by both restaurant staff and other customers, and customers shaking my hand and bowing as I walked out! All in all, my first Okinawan restaurant experience was amazing and taught me so many new things, and I can’t wait for my next opportunity!