Goya. Pronounced (goooy-yah). When I first heard the name, I was wondering how it related to my favorite canned food brand. With a canned food image in mind, I then noticed a few Goyas hanging from lattice work or trellices in homes around Okinawa. It’s not everyday that you see a member of the gourd family, hanging from a vine.

If you haven’t noticed, Goya is a staple in the Okinawan diet. The bitter taste that leaves the sides of your tongue *sourly satiated* has said to be a refreshing contrast to the heat and humidity of the Okinawa summer.

Goya is definately an acquired taste, something that I would argue can be worked-up-to.

You can start simple:

Goya juice (not recommended)


or go fried: Goya tempura

or go local: Goya champaru.

Goya and:


and Goya beer (which my husband claims they use Goya instead of hops to bitter the beer).

I was surprised to research that goya is mainly found in India. Goya curry, I imagine. But I do remember seeing goya in Kyushu (priced ridicously) and in the markets in Taiwan.

And now on to the texture. I like textures. Tofu took me a while (*insert mental image of bone marrow*)- and goya was no different. I felt like I was experiencing a vegetable from the inside-out. Or I was a spikey haired character dancing through the pages of a Dr. Seuss book, eating goyas and saying something like “The cat in the hat eats goyas like THAT”.


If you like art, meet Fransisco Goya (no realtion to the gourd, other than sharing a name).

So dear readers, How do you GOYA?

Do share your favorite goya establishments, recipes or even an ode.

If you are still fearful of the undulated little friend, read about these three Okinawan favorites to build your palette:

Deliciously divine daikon

Taco Rice


  1. I make grow my own goya in Virginia ….6 years ago I met what has become my life long best friend she is from okinawa she gave me my first seeds …in the summer I use them with eggs and pork in a scrambled . My favorite way to use them is in smoothies. I freeze some for smoothies in the winter.

  2. There are goya juice boxes (I think for kids’ lunches) that are sweetened.

    I make goya champura at home. To remove the bitterness I cut the goya in half, scoop out the seeds, and pour salt in the hollow. The juice will be drawn out by the salt. Rinse thoroughly and then cook as you would usually. It’s a preparation technique I saw on an old AFN program.

  3. My aunt works for a company that specialized in healthy teas. Specifically goya teas. You can’t taste the bitterness at all and it is supposed to have numerous health benefits. I’ve seen different goya-tea brands sold in Jusco and other stores too.

  4. My favorite goya is the billboard along 58 in Nago: It’s a cartoon picture (kinda like a veggie tale character Oki style) of a little goya sitting in a seat wearing his seatbelt! Second is found on 84: photo-op goya! It’s one of those wooden thingies where you stick your head through a hole – the image on the front is a large goya. 😛

  5. Goya champuru’s the only way I can “do” goya, the other stir-fried ingredients help to tone down the bitter taste of the goya and actually make it tolerable/pleasant to eat. Did not know about the goya beer,not sure I’ll try it either. And don’t they do goya ice-cream too? And goya bread/pastries at Lawsons?