Okinawa suba (soba): すば (そば)

すば suba

Okinawa soba: in the local language it is actually called “suba” but many places will list it as “soba,” the Japanese word. I figure a place here is authentic if it actually uses the word suba instead of soba, since all locals understand the meaning of suba. But, Okinawa soba noodles are not actually made from buckwheat like Japanese soba. Really, it is quite a different dish altogether!

Okinawa soba shacks are all over the island; just within short walking distance of my house there 3 that only serve soba, and 2 more that are shokudo restaurants that include Okinawa soba on the menu. On a longer walk… well, probably a dozen more, I really couldn’t say for sure. Okinawa soba is very much considered “soul food” here.

I cannot really eat pork, so this is a dish I do not indulge in. Usually it consists of a clear pork based broth, with thicker-than-ramen but thinner-than-udon flour noodles (very chewy in texture), and topped with slices of pork or soki (pork on the bone ribs). My husband occasionally orders Okinawa soba, but he usually prefers ramen. That being said, if you have no dietary restrictions, do not pass up the opportunity to try this dish while you are in Okinawa.

There are all sorts of variations on Okinawa soba; there is main island Okinawa soba, Miyako soba, Yaeyama soba… everywhere in Okinawa prefecture seems to have its own slightly different version!

Some places will sell their fresh soba noodles in their restaurant, but you can also buy them in any grocery store here in the refrigerated section near produce. It is great for making noodle dishes at home (such as ramen, yakisoba, etc). I always buy fresh over the dried, since it is actually a bit healthier, plus it tastes so much better!

*There are a few restaurants where you can watch the owner-san making the fresh soba noodles! I will link these in the next few days.

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