To eat less and healthier, consider Japanese ‘washoku’ restaurants

By David Higgins

A typical ‘washoku’ meal consists of a cup of rice, bowl of miso soup, and side and main dish, in this case fried mackerel.

A typical ‘washoku’ meal consists of a cup of rice, bowl of miso soup, and side and main dish, in this case fried mackerel.

Have you ever wondered how Japanese people stay so slim and trim? I often find it baffling how slim most Japanese waistlines are while most North American waistlines have become wide and bulging. One common response is that “it is in the Japanese DNA to have the ability to remain slim.” However anyone who has observed the difference between the eating habits of people from both cultures would most likely offer a more clear and obvious answer, it’s about the food and diet.

Wafutei Restaurants serve typical ‘washoku’ meals.

Wafutei Restaurants serve typical ‘washoku’ meals.

When I was 103kg and decided to lose some weight, the first items that I cut out were the classic fattening ‘Western’ foods such as hamburgers, pizza, fried chicken and French fries. I wanted to consume food that was full of pure nutrients and had a balanced level of carbohydrates and protein. There are so many North American diet crazes that encourage you to eat only salad and steak because adding any carbohydrates is what is going to make you fat. This is complete nonsense. It has been scientifically proven that if you want to eat one of the healthiest diets in the world, then you need to start eating ‘Washoku.’

‘Washoku’ is the term used for the most traditional style of Japanese food that people eat within Japan. As I set about consuming more ‘washoku,’ I began to realize that it is actually extremely popular. With the variety of restaurants offered on Okinawa, one could be easily mislead to believe that this type of food is not popular, but you would be amiss.

This Okinawan version of ‘washoku’ has ‘champuru’ stir fry as the main dish and tofu and natto on the side.

This Okinawan version of ‘washoku’ has ‘champuru’ stir fry as the main dish and tofu and natto on the side.

A traditional ‘washoku’ meal will most likely include miso soup, rice, tofu, and either some sort of fish, chicken or beef cutlets and a small salad. It really is a ‘no nonsense’ Asian-style cuisine that doesn’t seem very extraordinary, but the fact that the overall meal is such a well balanced healthy combo that you could ever feed your body, is the factor that makes it stand out among others.

A Japanese doctor that works at the Okinawa Chubu hospital tells all of his patients who need to lose weight and maintain a healthy lifestyle, that he highly recommends that they change their regime to a traditional Japanese diet. To encourage you with a starting point towards better health, I have included my favorite ‘washoku’ restaurants located in Okinawa.

My all time favorite ‘washoku’ restaurant is Otoya. It is the easiest ‘washoku’ restaurant to find because the sign is in English and Japanese instead of Japanese kanji like most others. It has a great menu with some delicious traditional Japanese foods. One of my favorites is their homemade tofu made daily within the restaurant.

Ootoya is another restaurant chain that serves washoku.

Ootoya is another restaurant chain that serves washoku.

My second favorite is Wafutei, and most of them are located near or within large San-A department stores. The food is better than at Otoya but it is a bit more expensive. Wafutei Restaurants are always busy, even during the week, which is a good indicator that the food is good. My favorite dish is called ‘Ladies’ Steak Set.‘ Don’t be turned off by the feminine sounding name, as the dish itself is excellent.

My third favorite is called Yayoi. It recently opened on Highway 58, across from Camp Lester. It offers an interesting computerized ordering format right as you enter the door, which eliminates the need for a waiter or waitress which may or may not be a good thing. The benefit being that if you are in a rush, you can eat and dash out without the pain of waiting to pay because you already have.

If you have found yourself dining a few too many times at Popeye’s Chicken or munched down a few too many Cinnabons, then it is probably time to adapt a healthier diet while you still can. A change in diet doesn’t mean you have to give up food, just the food with salt, cheese and sauces containing sugar. Luckily, the benefits are that you can prolong and enrich your life by stepping outside the gate of the military base to eat healthy meals, and strengthen your mind and body at any of the surrounding ‘washoku’ restaurant.

23:04 18 Jan , 2017

eju12-22

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