Noodles are one of the staple foods in many cultures including Japan. A lot of Japanese dishes use noodles as the main ingredient, such as Ramen and Udon. Small shops, restaurants, and even food vendors during the festivals are filled with all kinds of noodles. So what are some of the most famous and tasty noodle dishes in Japan?
Ramen (ラーメン) is a noodle soup dish which comes from China. The noodles are made from wheat and are served in a bowl with some toppings, such as Chashu (Sliced pork), Menma (Bamboo shoots), soft-boiled eggs or some kind of seaweed. Soy sauce or miso is often used in the soup to make it even more delicious. There are several types of ramen, usually each region has its own ramen style.
The most popular types are:
- Shoyu (醤油, Soy Sauce), with clear brown chicken broth and soy sauce soup. This ramen often uses meat as the topping, such as pork, beef or fish.
- Miso (味噌, Soybean Paste), the ramen soup is flavored with soybean paste (miso) and oily chicken or fish broth intended to warm your body. This ramen is from Hokkaido, and is suitable to its cold weather.
- Shio (塩, Salt) ramen features are light soup with clear broth. Usually, it uses chicken broth with a lot of salt. Meat is usually added as a topping, such as pork or beef, and narutomaki.
- Tonkotsu (豚骨, Pork Bone), originated from Kyushu. The broth is cloudy white, made of pork bones which have been boiled until dissolved.
Udon (うどん) is kind of Japanese noodles with thick texture made of wheat flour. Usually, they are served hot in a simple dish (Known as kake udon) or flavoured broth Kaketuyu. Kaketuyu is a blend of dashi, soy sauce, and mirin. Some toppings are also added such as tempura, chopped scallions, seaweed, and boiled egg. Each region has different way to served udon, cold regions such as Hokkaido often use more soy sauce and oily broth to keep the body warm.
The popular udons are:
- Curry Udon, udon noodles combined with Japanese curry. This udon is most suitable for the winter.
- Tempura Udon, usually served with hot broth and tempura as the topping.
Soba (そば) noodles are made of buckwheat and are as thick as spaghetti. The dish can be served hot in noodle soup or cold with dipping sauce. Different from others noodles dishes that are sometimes seasonal only, Soba dishes are available throughout the year because buckwheat can be harvested four times a year. Soba is popular in all regions of Japan and can be easily found in many small shops and restaurants. Soba noodles are also available in dried form in supermarkets, or in online stores.
Yakisoba (焼きそば) is also made of buckwheat. It originated in China and became popular in Japan. Yakisoba noodles are served grilled or fried mixed with meat, vegetables, and garnished with red ginger. This noodle dish can be easily found during any Japanese festival.
Somen noodles are made of white flour. They are thinner than Udon and Soba. Sōmen are usually served cold with tsuyu (Dipping sauce). During summer, sōmen are chilled and eaten on a hot day to stay cool.
There is a unique tradition in Japan associated with somen. “Nagashi Somen”, or act of catching somen noodles that are flowing in the water through bamboo gutter with chopsticks, and dipping them into cool broth before eating.