Eat Dine In A Casual Atmosphere – Give A Shokudo A Try!

Everything from eating healthy to enjoying a great meal out while in Okinawa
I believe that most people traveling or getting stationed overseas are interested in local cuisine. However, sometimes it is hard to find places to get good local food other than the ones introduced in magazines. These places tend to not only be packed with tourists but can also be very pricey as well.

To experience real local food, you don't have to look for a fancy restaurant.

Try a shokudo!

Shokudos are everywhere in Okinawa. These casual restaurants serve a good portion of local Okinawa foods at reasonable prices. When my family and I (who all have different tastes) can't decide where to go for a meal, we just go to a shokudo resulting in every one of us being satisfied.

Demigurasu sauce on top of hamburger
Hamburger with demigrass sauce

At shokudos, the local dishes such as goya champuru (cooked bitter melon with veggies), tofu champuru, Okinawa soba, as well as typical popular Japanese dishes like tonkatsu cutlet (fried pork, who doesn't like it?) and curry and rice are on the menu.

Although shokudos would make an awesome local food experience, there is just one thing that might confuse you there.

How you order your food.

A vending machine to place your order
Vending machine

As you step inside most restaurants, there will be a vending machine where you have to purchase a ticket for your food. Before you get in the line, it would be best to pick what you would like to try as there are usually pictures on the wall.

What's so confusing about it?

Japanese menu
Japanese menu

It's the vending machine! Choosing what you want might be a little hard as all the choices are typically in Japanese.

In order to avoid confusion, you probably should take note of what you will want to try before leaving the house. That way you won't have to just stand at the vending machine forever trying to figure it out. Or, you could simply ask someone which button is for what you're looking for.

Most shokudos have A-lunch, B-lunch and C-lunch sets on their menu.

Although it says "lunch", they can be purchased regardless of the time. Because of the enormous portion of the food, these lunch sets are often favored by businessmen; and when I have my kids, I also prefer the lunch sets to share with them.

Order #9
Order number

After purchasing a ticket, don't go grab a seat yet. Make sure you give it to a worker in the kitchen over the counter unless someone comes out to ask you for it.

Self-service water
Self-service drink station

In addition to ordering, water is also self-service. I like that some places offer iced tea instead of water too.

Self-service tray return direction
Tray return kanji

The one I went to for the pictures used here didn't have tea and the portions weren't that big as the place as it’s apart of a chain restaurant, but the size was perfect for me and I still liked the food and the casual atmosphere. I'm sure I will go back there again to try a different meal soon!

Saikyou Shokudo
The last two kanji characters mean shokudo
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About Author
Snow is the wife of @David, co-founder of Okinawa.Org, and a local national. She dedicates her time contributing posts about the Japanese language in the Language Corner forum as well as posts about Okinawan culture and other amazing things to do in Okinawa in the Okinawa blog.


I went ahead and added the most popular food items that shokudos serve along with the Japanese seen on the ticket vending machines for them in the "discussion" tab above the article.

As time goes by, and my family and I visit more shokudos, I'll post pictures of various meals to give you a clearer idea of what they are (and maybe add to the list) too! :)
I hope many tourists here will try shokudo instead of fancy expensive restaurants so that they can have real local food!

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