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What Makes Okinawa Tacos Different?

What Makes Okinawa Tacos Different?

Okinawa features many fusion foods due to its complex and rich history. Okinawa Tacos serve as one example of a culinary delight that has captivated the taste buds of locals and visitors alike for its originality and delicious flavor. Beyond the conventional understanding of this beloved Mexican dish, Okinawa has crafted its own interpretation using flavors, textures and regional influences that set its tacos apart on the global culinary stage.

In this post, you will learn about what makes Okinawa tacos different from other tacos, which transcend conventional norms and embody a culinary identity deeply rooted in the local community. You will also discover a new addition to the Okinawa tacos scene at ESTINATE LOUNGE NAHA for a limited-time only in February 2024!

Click the button below to book your stay at ESTINATE HOTEL NAHA


Photo by ayustety

What are Okinawa Tacos?

The tradition of crafting tacos has evolved into a unique culinary phenomenon in Okinawa, distinct from its American, Mexican and even mainland Japanese counterparts. The meticulous process of creating Okinawan taco shells sets them apart, influenced by the region’s climate favoring fried foods and a rich tradition of enjoying tempura as a snack.

In Okinawa, the taco experience revolves around the delicate balance of a handcrafted, crispy shell and the flavorful, juicy taco meat. While traditional hard and crunchy taco shells often use yellow corn, Okinawa’s taco shops predominantly opt for a meticulous process of hand-making shells, a laborious effort with a secret blend guarded by each shop. While commercial settings often rely on instant mixes for efficiency, Okinawan taco shells demand precision, involving intricate steps like sifting, blending, manual searing and a day of refrigeration. The resulting product, meticulously crafted with extensive effort, showcases the commitment of dedicated taco shop owners who strive to offer a delicious meal.

Photo by ayustety

Okinawan tacos boast seasoned minced meat, or “taco meat,” typically flavored with robust spices. The trio of chopped lettuce, tomatoes and cheese forms the core, with a preference for diced tomatoes and shredded cheddar, creating a distinctive flavor profile. Salsa, a vital component, leans towards a milder spice, yet variations in flavor persist, with occasional hints of ketchup.

While the taco rice phenomenon has gained popularity, Okinawa’s unique taco shells remain a coveted artisanal creation. The dedication to handcrafting shells ensures that even in a region abundant with taco rice offerings, only a handful of places can replicate the authentic Okinawan taco experience. The result is a diverse and competitive landscape where each taco shop bears the mark of an original and unparalleled taste, making Okinawan tacos a culinary treasure with roots deeper than the popular taco rice.

What are Chocos?

As an addition to the rich tacos scene and fusion of Mexican and Okinawan cuisine, ESTINATE LOUNGE NAHA will offer dessert tacos, called “Chocos” from February 1 to February 29, 2024 in celebration of Valentine’s Day. Chocos are unlike other tacos because they are sweet and incorporate KOHAMA ISLAND RUM into the dough. The dessert tacos seamlessly blend the flavors of rum into the chocolate, creating a natural and delightful pairing.

Crafting Chocos involves kneading chocolate into the dough, baking a customized tortilla for every order, and generously topping it with cream and fruits in three vibrant colors. Meticulous attention to detail ensures that each Choco is a perfect choice for a post-dinner dessert or afternoon snack.

ESTINATE LOUNGE NAHA offers three flavors of Choco: Orange Choco, Strawberry Choco and Banana Mint Choco. You can also try cafe au lait called Valentine Ole ESTINATE’s original blend coffee and sweet cream, topped with cocoa powder. Each Choco incorporates rum made from black sugar harvested on Okinawa’s islands, delivering a unique taste exclusive to ESTINATE LOUNGE NAHA.

Orange Choco (600 yen including tax)

Creamy custard and whipped cream are blended with orange peel, creating a luscious mixture. This carefully crafted dessert is then expertly topped with a layer of rich chocolate and dried orange. The result is a smooth taste profile with a subtle hint of acidity, making it the perfect treat for Valentine’s Day and an ideal choice for those who appreciate the delightful flavor of oranges!

Strawberry Choco (600 yen including tax)

Custard and whipped cream are intricately blended with raspberry puree, offering not only a burst of vivid colors but also a lively taste that signals the onset of spring. The addition of gentle sweetness from white chocolate serves as a delightful accent to this flavorful taco.

Banana Mint Chocos (600 yen including tax)

Custard and whipped cream are expertly blended with mint syrup, creating a refreshing sweetness. The must-try pairing of banana and chocolate mint offers a wonderful combination that is sure to please your taste buds!

Valentine Ole (600 yen including tax) *Additional 200 yen for rum choice

A cafe au lait is brewed using ESTINATE’s original blend coffee and sweet cream, topped with cocoa powder. You have the option to customize the sweetness by adding chocolate sauce. Moreover, for an additional 200 yen, you can enhance the experience by adding rum. The gentle aroma of rum combined with the sweet cafe au lait results in a soothing and delightful flavor.

Whether you find solace in a quiet moment of self-enjoyment or choose to share the joy with a beloved companion, these Valentine’s Day sweets are designed to provide a delightful and visually appealing treat. Their rich and satisfying flavors have been carefully curated to enhance your personal moments of relaxation, offering a perfect escape from the hustle and bustle of daily life.

The exquisite blend of flavors, ranging from velvety rum-infused chocolate dough to delicate notes of fruity sweetness, creates a culinary experience that goes beyond the ordinary and encapsulates Okinawa’s rich culinary history. These Chocos are not just a treat for yourself; they’re an invitation to create wonderful memories during Valentine’s Day while celebrating Okinawa’s tradition of fusion cuisine.

So, whether you’re seeking a personal escape or aiming to make someone’s day a bit brighter, these Chocos are here to elevate your experiences and add a touch of sweetness to life’s beautiful moments.


Experience Okinawa like never before at our urban resort hotel. Within walking distance to Kokusai Street, and just 5-min from Miebashi monorail station, which links to Naha Airport.

Click the button below to book your stay at ESTINATE HOTEL NAHA