Japan is full of tasty noodle dishes aside from ramen, including hot udon and soba that will warm you right up! Arising from the differences in the noodles and soups, the variations are aplenty too. Depending on the making and thickness of the noodles and the variety of soups from miso flavor of chicken soup, the flavours and textures vary! Today we will be looking at winter favourites from different regions such as the hearty miso-nikomi (simmered) udon and houtou noodle soup. Experience all the traditional flavours, which have been passed down the generations!
Nagoya’s representative regional gourmet, miso-nikomi udon, is made with noodles simmering in a miso-based soup, defined by its dark and thick soup, along with chewy noodles. This dish is mainly cooked in earthenware pots called donabe. And these dishes usually served directly to the customer in these pots. Donabe are used because it prevents the thick soup from burning easily and allows it to simmer over time.
“Hatcho-miso”, which is the miso used in this dish, is mainly the bean miso created in Okazaki city of Aichi prefecture.This particular miso is a dark brown spicy miso with a unique aroma and deep flavour, and used in Nagoya specialties including miso-katsu and miso-oden. Famous restaurants include “Yamamotoya Honten” which uses their in-house red miso and white miso that they take 3 years to brew, and restaurant “Miso Nikomi no Kadomaru” which was established in 1926. “Miya Kishimen Takesaburo” is another famous shop that uses flat “Kishimen” noodles often eaten in Nagoya.
“Houtou” refers to the flat and wide noodles simmered in miso along with vegetables and is a local cuisine of Yamanashi prefecture. Wheat flour and water are kneaded in wooden kneading bowls and are then flattened out with a pin called Noshibo and, folded together before being cut with a knife. Unlike udon dough, which is left to rest, houtou are cooked as soon as it is kneaded and cut, giving the soup its unique taste. Ingredients added to the soup usually include vegetables like Japanese kabocha (Japanese pumpkin), green onion, carrots, taro, and Chinese cabbage, along with mushrooms such as shiitake and shimeji, and chicken at times.
Families like to cook houtou in large hot pots, normally with leftovers to be eaten on the following day! Famous houtou shops include “Houtou Fudou” which make their noodles in house, and “Oshokujidokoro Akafuji” famous for their spicy miso kabocha houtou and mushroom houtou dishes.
Morioka city of Iwate prefecture is known for its varieties of noodles! The city’s three great noodles are Morioka Reimen (cold noodles), Jajamen and Wanko Soba. Let us take a look at these noodles before looking at onmen（hot noodles） which is the upcoming trend and can be enjoyed better during winter.
“Morioka Reimen” are served cold in tasty beef broth with noodles that bear a smooth texture and satisfying chewiness. This dish is usually eaten during summer for its refreshing taste.“Morioka Jajamen” are noodles that are kneaded flat like Kishimen, served with meat-miso, cucumbers, and green onions. Known as one of Morioka’s three great noodles, “Wanko Soba” is known for their bite-sized servings of soba served with hot soba tsuyu sauce. Whenever you finish a bowl of wanko soba, a staff will come refill your bowl. However, a noodle dish which has been even more popular as of late has been “Morioka Onmen.” Served at yakiniku shops and reimen restaurants, the ingredients used in this noodle dish varies by shop.
A popular onmen called “Seiroukaku” uses noodles made with wheat flour, starch and buckwheat flour, along with a special soup blend made with chicken meat and its tail. At “Yamanakaya Seinan-Shop”, transparent noodles often used for Morioka reimen are used, with soup cooked with beef tongue and ribs. They serve two flavours of the hot noodles, the salt-flavoured “Morioka Onmen Shio” ,and “Morioka Onmen Kara” which is spicy. Try out all the unique new dishes that Morioka has to offer!
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