Korean Bingsu in Okinawa

So typically in Japan, there is kaki-gouri かき氷, “shave ice.” And there is tons of that here in Okinawa, especially Okinawa “zenzai”.

But today I went to a new place that opened up, a Korean dessert cafe called Yuki-no-Sonata 雪のソナタ in Naha. And also the only Korean dessert cafe I have ever found in Okinawa… so I was anxious to try it. They serve bingsu (in Japanese katakana it is written as ビンス), which is a fluffy elaborate snow ice that only Koreans could have come up with~~ now maybe you can see why I am excited to try this place.

The cafe itself was clean and nice, with K-pop tunes playing. The menu is sparse, only 4 choices. Since I dragged my husband here, we ended up ordering the Oreo flavor bingsu (instead of mango) as a compromise; it came stacked with Oreo cookie, brownie bites, and chocolate sauce overtop the fluffy snow ice. It was a hefty price, 900yen– though students (under 20 years of age) get a 30% discount! Jealous. This place is definitely trying to reel in the younger crowd. Despite the high cost, we enjoyed it immensely as it was totally delicious. It also made me realize how much I miss this style of shave ice! I can honestly say I have never seen this type of bingsu or snow ice here in Okinawa until today.

So while we will not be coming here often since my wallet cannot afford it, it was so ono and refreshing on a hot day like today. My hope is that it will catch on here in Okinawa, and the costs can come down…

You can’t even see the fluffy snow ice underneath all the cookie and chocolate! After we started digging in, there was no hope for another photo…

address for Yuki-no-Sonata 雪のソナタ: https://goo.gl/maps/NdSukK4NSW72

Korean Food in Okinawa: 韓国料理

韓国 “kankoku” means Korea in Japanese, 料理 “ryouri” means cooking/food, so 韓国料理 kankoku-ryouri means Korean food.

In Okinawa, there is not a whole lot of Korean food, unfortunately. However, you can find some Korean ingredients in a few of the stores and a there are a few decent restaurants where you can get your fix.

Some common grocery stores, such as SanA, will carry gochujang paste, pepper flakes, Korean seaweed, and kimchi. Usually grocery stores carry Japanese-style kimchi (a lot less spicy, different flavor), which to me is not as good, but often they will carry a few imported kimchi in jars from Korea. Some stores have a better variety of imports; depending on what you are looking for Kaldi, DonQuijote, APrice, and Gyomu Super have some decent selections of ingredients and products that you cannot find in the typical Japanese supermarkets.

Awhile ago, Ryubo department store in Naha opened up a kimchi counter inside the basement grocery/food floor~ pretty good selection and taste; there is also a sit-down Korean food cafe there.
address: https://goo.gl/maps/WxXoNYyqEVF2

Gejol Korean restaurant in Ginowan has a good variety of Korean dishes, and is worth checking out. I want to go back and try the homemade makgeolli some evening when I have time. You can also buy kimchi to go. The owner is very sweet and nice.
address: 〒901-2215宜野湾市真栄原3-33-30 https://goo.gl/maps/kSs4yG1eheE2

On the second floor of あっぷるタウン (Omoromachi Apple Town) in Naha is Tokyo Sundubu restaurant, 東京純豆腐. It is a bit Japanese style, but still pretty good, especially when you feel like jjigae.
address: 〒900-0006 那覇市おもろまち3丁目3−1 https://goo.gl/maps/h1hdfkrot422

There are several yakiniku restaurants (grilled meat) in Okinawa, and while derived from Korean cuisine, these places rarely offer much in the way of actual Korean-style banchan, kimchi, or even Korean-style meats. The only one that I have found to close to Korean-style food is Myeongdong (2 locations). Not only this, but the dolsot (stone bowl) bibimbap was pretty good, too.
Urasoe, address #1: 〒901-2131 浦添市牧港4丁目 6-1 https://goo.gl/maps/iJFDFR8Vy9x
Naha, address #2: 〒901-0146那覇市具志3丁目12−1https://goo.gl/maps/xM8T5oFpEuv

In Urasoe is 大長今 Dae Jang Geum restaurant. They were so-so and parking was impossible. The food was not good enough for me to deal with that parking again…
address: https://goo.gl/maps/gT11pLAhYzG2

I have not tried every Korean restaurant Okinawa has to offer (yet). I have heard rumors of a good place somewhere on the west side near Araha, and some people swear by a few up in Awase/Uruma area. Hopefully I can find out soon if these places are indeed the Korean soul food I so dearly miss.

Luckily, for those of us that love Korean food, culture, and beauty products, Seoul is only a 2 hour plane ride away for the things you simply cannot find here in Okinawa.