I decided that after the park I’d grab dinner. According to google maps a lot of the soba places in the area were closed. It was after 5pm. I wandered around the main road near my hotel and saw that there was a tourist information place nearby that was still open. So I went in and asked them for a recommendation of a place nearby to get some soba. I explained that on my maps (Google and Trip Advisor) a lot of the recommended soba shops were closed.
They discussed it back and forth and then would pop over to the window and determined that their usual recommendation which was across the street One of the women working escorted me outside of the information desk and pointed to the Garusoka soki soba shop all lit up and told me it was very famous and popular with tourists, especially since it was so close to the tourist office. I happily made my way over.
The majority of the seating is outside. I was a bit confused on how to order or how to get in until I made my way into the small shop, past all the outdoor seating. Once inside to the right there’s a vending machine. This is how you order. They have pictures and menus everywhere and in English so it should make ordering easy. The machine takes coins and cash. I was a bit confused because I had thought it only took coins, which I had, but this made it difficult for the people who were confused after me that I tried to help. It does take both.
I ordered the Okinawa soba set (880 yen), gave my ticket to the guy working then took a seat at the bar. You can sit outside. Just let the person working know. He brought the food out to the group after me which chose to sit outside.
For me my Okinawa soba set was too much food. It was amazing though.
Let’s start with the star of the show. The soba. Soba is generally a dark brown/grey color and rather thin. It’s made out of buckwheat, which gives it its color. More often then not I tend to have it cold and then dip it in the accompanying sauce. Okinawan soba on the other hand is made out of wheat and is larger, thicker, and chewier giving some similarities to udon. Due to the way it’s served, in a large bowl of soup with all sorts of fun extras it’s also similar to ramen. While soba usually exclusively means buckwheat noodles the Okinawan soba is one of the few exceptions.
The broth is generally made out of seaweed, pork, and bonito. Additions to the soup are pork (in my case it was very soft pork belly with lots of fat called san-mai niku 三枚肉), fish cake, scallions, some veggies that reminded me of bok choy and I think egg. Generally, at it’s very basics, it comes with the scallion, fishcake and some form of pork. It may include boneless spare ribs called soki ソーキそば or tebichi てびちそば which is pig trotters. It also usually comes with pickled ginger (in my case found off to the side as self serve).
The other dishes included kufua juushii which is like a local mixed or fried rice. I found the kind I had at the restaurant very oily which didn’t combat the oil of the soba and made me dive into the self-serve pickled ginger a lot more often. Some unique Okinawan ingredients in the kufua juushii include bits of pork and mushroom. In some cases you may find mugwort in it.
There were also two side dishes. I’m not exactly sure what they were. One seemed obviously to be some sort of bean sprout in what I assumed was soy sauce. The other reminded me of coleslaw but because of the strong vinegary taste I couldn’t place what it actually was. I liked it but for all I know it could’ve been shredded crab meat.
The final thing was easy to recognize. Beans, red azuki beans. Usually I have azuki beans on top of some sort of icy desert, whether it’s a shaved ice or a parfait. Or I have it as a paste inside something similar to mochi or some other pastry. I’ve never had just a little dish of azuki beans in their sauce. It was good.
If you want to try some local food that’s easy to get to Garusoka is a good place to try. They’re open daily from 10am until 11pm.