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Udon Noodle Dishes
Popular Udon Dishes
Below is a list of udon dishes that tourists will commonly find at restaurants across Japan. Note that there are some regional differences in terms of naming and seasoning.
Japanese restaurants in the United States often serve one or two udon noodle dishes. But there are actually a wide variety of dishes you can enjoy — here are 11 udon noodle dishes you must try!
This udon noodle dish is served cold, and the noodles are usually placed on a bamboo mat, though they may also be served in a shallow dish. The noodles are accompanied by a dipping sauce and sometimes garnished with a bit of nori or wakame.
One of the dishes commonly found on the menu in Japanese restaurants in the United States, this is a simple dish comprised of udon noodles in a hot broth. Green onions serve as a garnish.
For a heartier meal than kake udon, try this dish. It is the same as above, except now the dish comes with deep fried tempura batter. The addition of the tempura fritters, called tenkasu, is pure umami comfort!
If you’re looking for a bit of vegetarian protein with your noodles, you can’t go wrong with this dish. The noodles can be served in a hot or cold broth, and they are topped with thinly sliced, fried sheets of tofu.
Another simple variation of the udon noodles in hot broth, this dish comes with a raw egg on top. The egg is poached by the hot soup, and when the yolk is punctured, the egg slowly coats the noodles and mingles with the broth. The name of this dish translates to Moon Viewing Udon, as the egg yolk resembles the moon.
A very hearty and filling meal satisfying those tempura cravings, this udon noodle dish comes complete with several pieces of tempura placed atop the noodles in the hot broth or alongside the dish. The actual ingredients fried in the tempura batter will vary according to the restaurant.
As the name implies, this is a dish of udon noodles that come in a Japanese curry broth. Japanese curry differs from Indian and Thai curries but still delivers a warm, satisfying feeling, making this a very popular dish.
Another udon noodle in hot broth dish, this one comes with pieces of mochi. The addition of the mochi is believed to give whoever consumes the dish a bit of extra strength, earning the dish the name chikara, which means “strength” or “power.”
For a truly hearty meal, try this large hot pot dish. The hot pot, called a nabe, contains udon noodles, of course, cooked in a broth along with various vegetables and an assortment of other ingredients depending upon the establishment. Additions can include seafood, tempura, mushrooms, steamed fish cake or egg. It is an excellent dish on cold days and nights.
For the vegetable lover, this hot udon noodle dish contains a wide assortment of vegetables and wild, edible plants. The distinctive flavors are earthy and warming.
“Yaki” means to stir-fry. Thus, this dish is a stir-fried udon noodles in a noodle broth, along with various vegetables. Great nutritious meal or snack when you’re hungry.
Udon is popular all across Japan. Below is a list of some of the most common regional varieties:
Named after the former province that is now Kagawa Prefecture, Sanuki Udon is the most famous udon variety in Japan. The noodles are firm and chewy, and can be eaten in a variety of ways. Udon is a very popular and cheap meal in Kagawa Prefecture. Many of the popular, nationwide udon chains serve Sanuki Udon.
Where to eat udon
Udon can be found across Japan on the menu at specialty udon restaurants (udon-ya) and soba restaurants (soba-ya), casual dining restaurants such as family restaurants, izakaya and eateries around tourist sites. There also exist several popular, low-cost udon restaurant chains with outlets in the large cities and along national routes. The dining out section explains what to expect inside a sit-down restaurant in Japan.
A regular udon dish at an average restaurant typically costs between 500 yen and 1000 yen, but low-cost udon chains often sell meals for under 500 yen. At more upmarket eateries or for more elaborate udon dishes, expect to pay from 1000 yen to 1500 yen per person.
Traditionally handmade from locally grown wheat flour and spring water from Mount Mizusawa, Mizusawa Udon has a long history of feeding pilgrims on their way to Mizusawa Temple near Ikaho Onsen. Mizusawa Udon is typically served chilled with either a soy based dipping sauce or a sesame dipping sauce, sometimes both.
With over 300 years of history, the process of making Inaniwa Udon takes about four days as it is all done manually. After kneading the dough by hand, it is wrapped around two rods, flattened, then stretched and finally air dried. The handmade process results in Inaniwa Udon noodles that are thinner compared to conventional udon noodles and have a smooth texture.
A feature of Ise Udon is the rich and dark sauce (tsuyu) that is poured on top of the udon noodles. This rich and dark tsuyu is made of dried kelp or smoked fish (usually bonito or small sardines) and soy sauce. The udon noodles are usually topped with green onions and katsuobushi (smoked bonito flakes). Many restaurants around the Ise Shrines serve Ise Udon.
Hoto noodles are flatter and wider compared to regular udon noodles. They are typically cooked in a cast iron hot pot with lots of vegetables in a miso based soup. The vegetables that go into Hoto are largely seasonal vegetables, including pumpkin.
Particular to Nagoya, Kishimen is a variant of udon noodles that are flat and thin, similar to the shape of fettuccine. The ingredients that go into making kishimen are no different from udon noodles, the main difference just being the shape and time taken to cook the noodles.
Misonikomi Udon is another specialty to Nagoya. It is a very rich dish and particularly popular in the winter. It uses red miso for its soup base. Other typical ingredients include chicken, green onions, mushrooms, a raw egg on top and rice cakes (mochi).
While called soba, Okinawa Soba are not made with buckwheat flour but with wheat flour. Their texture is more of a cross between ramen and udon noodles. Okinawa Soba are usually served in a hot pork broth with slices of simmered pork, green onions and pickled ginger.
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