Summer Cuisines Unique to the Islands of Oki!
The Oki Islands—seafood lovers’ paradise! Here are our recommended dishes for your summer getaway! Enjoying the local food while getting to know the local culture in more depth!
The highlights of summer island cuisine—sazae (turban shell) and Japanese flying squid!
Sazae, or turban shell, is one of the commonly used ingredients in many of the Oki Islands’ dishes. It is highly nutritious with essential minerals like zinc, selenium, and iron. The chewy texture makes it very enjoyable to have with almost anything.
There are many types of squid that can be caught around Oki Islands, during different seasons, different types of squid can be caught. The one caught during the beginning of summer to autumn is mostly swordtip squid. While the Japanese flying squid can be caught all year round, it becomes the most delicious when caught during the cold winter.
Turban Shell on Rice (Sazae Gohan)
One of the signature dishes available on Nishinoshima Island, Okinoshima Town, and Chibu Island is the “sazae gohan” (サザエご飯) or turban shell rice. The rice is usually cooked with thinly sliced turban shells and vegetables, like carrots, but because every restaurant uses different ingredients, the sazae rice never tastes completely the same. Sazae adds texture to the rice, making it very pleasant to have with other side dishes, such as fried chicken or pork cutlet.
Available on all four islands, this is a staple dish well-known by the local people. In the past, when meat was not readily available on the islands, local people would use the turban shells in many dishes as a source of protein. The liver of the turban shell and butter are mixed and used to make the curry paste, which gives it a little bit of a spicy scent. It’s a simple dish that can be enjoyed by anyone and is also available for sale as a “box curry” making it the perfect souvenir to take home and enjoy with your loved ones!
Here are some restaurants where you can try sazae curry. Sazae Mura (Okinoshima Town), Conseil (Nishinoshima Town), Pōrest (Okinoshima Town), Rest House Kanjima (Chibu Village), Sentoraru-tei (Ama Town), Kokage Cafe (Okinoshima Town), Masuya (Okinoshima Town)
Sazae with Eggs Rice Bowl
At Okinoshima Town there is a restaurant called Sazae Mura which specialises in turban shell dishes, like this one! The half cooked egg goes well with the savoury turban shell flavour mixed with rice!
If you order a very interesting menu item called, "Sazae do don ga don," grilled turban shells (inside their shells) will be served!
Grilled Sazae Rice Bowl
Speaking of turban shells, to be able to have them for BBQ in summer is probably something you can only do on an island! For this dish, grilled turban shells are cut into small pieces, mixed with rice, and a little of rice miso; that is a dish unique to the Oki Islands!
Available in Okinoshima Town, Hotel Uneri restaurant (open to tourists for lunch hours).
The deep fried turban shell on rice (sazae tendon) is a must try! Just thinking about having it with the sweet and spicy tempura sauce on warm rice will already make you drool!
Available in Chibu Village, Rest House Kanjima. Prior reservation for this dish is required. You can contact the Chiburijima Tourism Association to arrange it for you or send the inquiry through the inquiry form on the website.
Sword tip Squid
Squid fishing is prosperous year-round on the Oki Islands, and you can enjoy a variety of types. The island locals are especially fond of the sword tip squid, which is in season from early summer through the fall. It is known for its tender meat and sweet taste, with a flavour that sets it apart from other squid.
Here is where you can have sword tip squid:
Nishiwaki (Nishinoshima Town)
Sazae Mura (Okinoshima Town)
Restaurant that are likely to have squid as one of the ingredients of the Seafood Rice Bowa (kaisen-don):
Nagi (Okinoshima Town): Squid Rice Bowl (ika-don, 3 days prior reservation is required)
Fisherman’s Wharf Oki (Okinoshima Town)
Hotel Uneri (Okinoshima Town)
Ajinokura (Okinoshima Town)
Isoshiki (Nishinoshima Town)
Kanshimame-zuke Don: Soy-marinated winter squid sashimi rice bowl
During a hot summer day, this "cool" Japanese flying squid marinated in soy sauce mixed with liver, and served over a bowl of rice will definitely cool you down! The sweet flavour with a little crunchiness of the squid gives a mellow taste after being marinated with soy sauce.
Join the Turban Shell Festival!
In early August, the Sazae Tsukami-dori (turban shell catching) is also held every year. It is a festival where you can catch as many turban shells as you want and enjoy a BBQ on the shore or take it home to cook in any way you like!
In 2022, the event will be held on the 6th of August.
Participation fee: Adult: JPY 2000, Children: JPY 1000, 6-year-old and under: Free
12:30 Meet at Kurii Port
12:40 Take the shuttle bus to Kisane Coast
13:00 Turban shell catching festival starts
15:00 Turban shell catching festival finishes––take the shuttle bus back to Kurii Port.
Notice: Please make sure you bring water shoes with you. Participation fee includes rice ball, sausages, and tea.
TEL: 08514-8-2274 Email: email@example.com
Please book before 1st of August.
Text by Nicharee Plubsiri (Yaleen)