Okinawan Culture Reflected in Its Food

Lynette Lo Tom
Special to The Hawai‘i Herald

“If you aren’t going to enjoy the fat, then don’t eat rafute,” Grant Murata declares passionately. Rafute is the unctuous braised pork belly that is a signature dish of Okinawa. Not to be confused with the more common and usually leaner shoyu pork, rafute, made the right way, has layers of fat between layers of rich pork that is lacquered with a rich sauce of Okinawan kokuto (black sugar), miso, peanut butter, soy sauce and awamori (distilled liquor made from rice).

Known to his wide circle of friends as “Sandaa,” Murata is the advertising and promotions manager for The Hawai‘i Herald and Hawaii Hochi. He is also a talented Okinawan sanshin performer and teacher. And, for three years, he and his then-business partner, Kyle Matsumoto, owned and cooked up a full menu of dishes at the popular “Off the Wall” restaurant in the Pearl Kai Shopping Center.

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