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Discover Japanese Cuisine: What Do Sea Grapes Taste Like?

Japan is well known for its diverse and unique cuisine. As an island country that has a long coastal line stretching from the Sea of Okhotsk to the East China Sea, Japan is home to a variety of foods mainly made from fish. And there is a famous vegetable that also comes from the sea called “Umibudo”. Have you ever heard of that name? “Umi” means “sea” and “budo” means “grapes” so “Umibudo” literally means sea grapes. Many people are curious about this plant and wonder “what do sea grapes taste like?” the first time they try it. The answer to all questions is at hand.

What Are Sea Grapes?

Umibudo, or sea grapes, or green caviar in English is a kind of seaweed that grows underwater along the islands of Okinawa. But instead of leaves growing from the stem, it has a bundle of little transparent green bubbles that look like green grapes. That feature gives it the name “sea grapes”.

What do sea grapes taste like

Umibudo has a bundle of little green bubbles that look like green grapes

Sea grapes are native to Caribbean, but they also grow in regions of the Pacific Ocean, so they have many more names in different places. They are called, Guto, Arosep or Lato in the Philippines, but in Malaysia, they are known as Latok. Famers in southern Okinawa prefecture have cultivated Umi budo for hundreds of years so there are many restaurants in the region serving dishes with this plant.

What Do Sea Grapes Taste Like?

This green Japanese algae has a very charming texture. It looks fresh, shiny and glossy. The first time you see it, you may think it is tasty. Many people are also curious about sea grapes’ taste.

Like other traditional Japanese foods, Umibudo has a very unique taste. Its taste is often described as a little salty typical of oceanic flavor. Some people argue that sea grapes taste either sweet or sour like acidic flavor. The taste is like a combination of wine, grapes and a little cocktail. The sweet taste is bolder when you chew these little bubbles. The sound of the grapes busting into your mouth is called “Puchi-puchi” – an onomatopoeia used to refer to the popping sound of the burst of air bubbles.

Let’s watch the video below to find out the answer to the question “What do sea grapes taste like?” in detail:

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How Can You Eat Sea Grapes?

So what do sea grapes taste like when they are served in different ways? The answer varies depending on the foods and the spice you eat. Umibudo is served in many ways in restaurants in Okinawa. The most simple way is a bowl of rice with a layer of sea grapes on the top. In some restaurants, people often eat raw Umibudo seasoned with soy sauce and drink beer.

There is a dish named “Umibudo don”. It is served with sea grapes and sashimi on top of rice then sprinkled with a sauce called “sanbaisu”.

what do sea grapes taste like

And as a result, we have the sea grapes dish for you

Final words

When you visit Japan, you just need to order an Umibudo dish in any Okinawa restaurants in many regions of the country. If you have the chance to try sea grapes, never miss this and you will have an interesting experience.

About Haruto Suzuki

Haruto Suzuki is a senior food and drinks blogger at Question Japan. He has a background in F&B industry and also experience of running his own Japanese restaurant in Tokyo for over 10 years. Therefore, he has a great knowledge of Japanese cuisine. So if you want to discover Japan through its unique traditional cuisine, Haruto Suzuki’s blog will be a great source of information for you.