Udon: the Noodles of Surprise

Where soba is made from buckwheat flour, udon is made from wheat flour. It normally has a width of 4 to 6 mm which makes it the thickest in all Japanese noodles. Sometimes, udon noodles are made from a variety of brown rice. It is not a food that is high in calorie but it contains a lot of carbohydrates and protein so it is very healthy to eat.

How udon came to be
There are a lot of stories explaining where udon originated but one of the most believable one goes like this. A long time ago, there is a monk from a faraway land who came to Japan and taught the people of the technology that does the milling of the flour. The Japanese, being techy people started to learn it fast and then the flour that was milled were made into noodles such as soba and udon. Once it was eaten by the local, it went quite popular and then it spread throughout the country until it finally became the udon that is being served in a lot of restaurants in the country today.

Different udon dishes
As the popularity of udon high rocketed, many dishes both hot and cold variety of udon was introduced to the people of Japan. Here are some of the dishes to try out when you visit Tokyo.

For the hot udon dishes, the following are quite popular:

  • Kake Udon
    This dish consists of hot udon noodles in broth that is topped with green onions that are sliced thinly.
Source: shibuya-metroplaza.com
  • Tempura udon
    Udon noodles in broth that is topped with tempura, mostly prawn tempura but can also be vegetable tempura.
Source: thespruce.com
  • Tsukimi udon
    This one is also known as moon viewing udon because it is topped with a raw egg that becomes a poach egg as it goes into the hot soup making it look like the moon.
Source: 3.bp.blogspot.com
  • Nabeyaki udon
    Udon dish where you mix the noodles with the normal side toppings such as vegetables in a pot with the option of putting an egg into the mix.
Source: lafujimama.com
  • Yaki udon
    Stir-fried udon is what this dish is that is prepared in the same way as yakisoba is, the sauce is soy based.
Source: delishar.com

The cold udon dishes are the following:

  • Zaru udon
    This dish involves udon noodles being placed in zaru which is a tray made out of bamboo and then topped with shredded seaweed, also known as nori in Japanese.
Source: asahiimports.com
  • Hadaka udon
    This dish literally translates to naked udon which means that the udon is served cold and on its own.

Health benefits of udon
For those who are trying to live a healthy life, udon promotes just that, healthy living with it having so many health benefits, no person trying to live healthily would be able to resist. Here are some of the health benefits of udon:

  • Prevents chronic diseases and promotes weight loss
    Udon noodles are made from whole wheat which means it gives a good dose of complex carbohydrates which has high amounts of fiber that it gets digested slower than the normal one. For people who are trying to slim down or prevent the rise of blood sugar then this is better than other breakfast cereals.
  • Manage stress better
    There are many things that are needed in order to manage stress and some of these are to have enough sleep, exercise and also a support system that you can rely on. Foods such as udon that has complex carbohydrates will help in managing excess amounts of stress especially eating it hot making the stress levels lower.
  • Rich in Vitamins
    Vitamin B is especially important to the body and udon noodles are rich in it such as vitamin B1 (Thiamine), vitamin B2 (riboflavin), vitamin B3 (niacin) and vitamin B9 (folate). It is important because it helps in turning the carbohydrates into ATP, the currency of energy in the body.

Where to try out udon dishes in Tokyo
There are a lot of restaurants in Tokyo that serves delicious looking udon and here are some of the best ones that you can try out:

  • Kagawa Ippuki
    This restaurant has origins that can be traced back to the prefecture of Kagawa which is the Udon Prefecture so you can expect that the udon served in the restaurant is really great. Udon noodles from the shop are chewy yet firm to bite and are shiny as well as delicious. This sauce is very much savory and thick and the tempura that they have on their menu is great as well to top off the udon.
  • Sanuki Udon
    Chewiness is one of the characters that the udon in this restaurant promotes and it is an important factor to a delicious udon dish. They offer a lot of different udon dishes from chilled udon to hot udon so be sure not to miss it out.
  • Utau Inaho
    The restaurant serves great udon dishes such as their famous shime-udon which translates literally to udon finisher. It is a dish where udon is put in the stock remaining from a hot pot and then is placed along with egg and fish cake.

There really is more to udon than meets the eye, it has the capability of surprising people when they least expect it to be. The journey to finding the best udon is still open so you can try and search for it yourself. Happy eating!

Alecksandra is a food hobbyist and otaku who has a deep interest in Japanese culture and cuisine. She likes knowing how every food out there in the open came to be, the meaning of their very names, why they taste the way they do and the diverging concepts that are behind every dish. One day she will travel to different countries to go restaurant hopping and share her food adventures to the world.

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