Okinawan cuisine may sound unfamiliar to you, even if you could be a Japanese food fan.

If you want to try those flavours of Okinawan, you can make your way to Okinawan Diner Nirai-Kanai at Great World Level 1.

Regulars may remember it used to be at Liang Court, and was the only restaurant in Singapore specialising in Okinawan food.

Okinawan cuisine is a unique blend of influences, with a focus on fresh and wholesome ingredients.

It is often characterised by its use of pork, tofu, and locally sourced vegetables.

As Okinawa is an island, the diet of its people comprises mainly of fish, tofu and seaweed which are low-fat and low-salt in nature.

An interesting fact is that this small island has the record number of centurions, and is known to be the healthiest place on earth.

While I do not think Okinawan Diner Nirai-Kanai’s authentic Okinawan cuisine such as the peanut tofu and pork belly will provide me with longevity, there are quite many surprises.

There is a rather rustic feel and ambience in the restaurant, and this is reflected in the dishes as well.

Its dishes may not have the fanciful aesthetic presentation as what it would have in other Japanese restaurants.

Some dishes tasted rather close to how the Chinese would have cooked their meats or vegetables, with a lighter approach both in terms of ingredients and seasoning.

I had the Stir-Fried Pork Belly with Kimuchi ($11) which combined tender slices of pork belly with the bold and spicy flavors of kimchi.

The result was a satisfying harmony of savoury and spicy, with the richness of the pork belly (and quite tender as well) complementing the fiery kick of the kimchi.

The Stir-Fried Bitter Gourd with Pork ($9.50) was balanced by the creaminess of the Okinawan bean curd and egg, creating a dish that was homely-tasting.

Pork lovers will find plenty to indulge in at Nirai-Kanai.

The Simmered Pork Belly ($9.80 and $14.89) features succulent slices of pork belly in a savoury-sweetish sauce. Surprisingly didn’t taste too greasy or fatty as well. Good to go with rice.

Another pork option is the Grilled Pork Rib ($8, $12); or Simmered Pork Knuckle ($11) cooked till tender.

There are also many set meals available, and I opted for the Japanese Hamburg Steak ($19.50).

The Hamburg steak featured a juicy and well-seasoned patty; and I liked the tasty seasoned rice and various picked vegetables that made this feel like a balanced meal.

One of the winning elements here is really its ambience, decked up with a 1970s Okinawan décor with sounds of traditional Okinawan tunes.

There is a saying that Okinawan cuisine “begins with pig and ends with pig”, and pork dishes will be my definite choice the next time.

Okinawan Diner Nirai-Kanai
Great World #01-107/108, 1 Kim Seng Promenade, Singapore 237994
Opening Hours: 11:30am – 3pm, 6pm – 11pm (Mon – Fri)
11:30am – 3:30pm, 5:30pm – 11pm (Sat – Sun)

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