We love Udon!

Jan 22, 2011

Udon is a type of Japanese noodle. It is a thick wheat-based noodle which is commonly eaten with broth and supplementary like eggs, leaks, fried piece of tofu or tempura. At least that is what we usually see in any Japanese restaurant. In actual fact, there are many variations to this delicacy and in some restaurants, you get to pick your own choice of side dish to go with it.

The place where I live is famous for its udon. How famous? Well, some people would drive five to six hours journey just to get a taste of this udon. Just imagine something like this, a 5~6 hours drive from KL to Kuala Terengganu, to eat that famous nasi dagang or keropok lekor! Something as irresistible as that!

Some general knowledge about Udon:

Some people thinks the soup is the better half of Udon. I live in Kansai area (where Osaka, Kobe and Kyoto are among the famous cities), which the cooking style is relatively different from Kanto area (representative prefecture: Tokyo). However it may be difficult for the average short-term visitor to spot many differences. Perhaps the most visible difference is a tendency to use light colored soy sauce instead of dark soy sauce, as in Kanto area. In short, Kansai's udon soup is very light and almost colorless whereas Kanto's udon soup is dark and has a bold and salty taste.

Teuchi udon versus machine made udon
We don't eat at restaurants that serve machine made udon unless in desperate cases where there is nothing we can eat at that restaurant. Since we have been pampered with good udon in Tokushima/Kagawa, our standard of good udon has got to be teuchi, which means hand made in Japanese. Teuchi udon may be a little expensive as compared to machine made udon. But don't get me wrong, machine made udon is good and accessible. We can find these machine made udon restaurants at train stations where we sometimes see them eat udon while standing!

たち食いうどん Eating Udon at standing and eating style restaurant

Some of Udon's vocab:

Kake udon
A simple dish with just udon and broth. The only ingredients are sliced green onions and perhaps a slice of kamaboko ( a processed seafood product). It is one of the simplest udon.

Kitsune udon
The name means"fox udon." in Japanese, and this is another common, no frills approach to udon. It's topped with Abura age, sweetened deep-fried slices of tofu.

Tsukimi udon
This kind of udon is topped with a raw egg, which poaches in the hot soup, or eat it raw after mixing with the udon and some soy sauce.

Tempura udon
This udon comes topped with tempura. Usually the accompanying tempura is shrimp, or kakiage, a type of mixed ingredient tempura fritter.

Tanuki udon
This kind of udon is topped with tenkasu, which is the deep-fried tempura batter.

Yaki udon
Fried noodle, the udon version.
Curry udon
We have never tried this. Curry udon is served in a soup made of Japanese curry. It may also be accompanied by meat or vegetables.

Being such a common food, there are a couple of interesting customs associated with it. First, it's traditional to eat cold udon in the summer and hot udon in the winter. At most noodle restaurants, you'll be able to choose between hot and cold noodles. We love both cold and hot but since cold noodle is eaten only in summer so our representative pictures of udon are all hot udons.

How do we look for good udon restaurant? Good udon means cheap and delicious. Basically we judge whether it's good by looking at the queue. The longer the queue is, the better it is. Seriously!

Good udon has its unique texture. It should be slurpilicious, chewy and springy! If you go to an udon shop, you will hear the Japanese slurping away the udon. They don't bite the udon, only occasionally chew it then swallow! We have not mastered that technique yet but making that slurping sound is real fun! Remember when you were little, your mom would warn you not to slurp cause it's not polite? Well, you can slurp your heart out without having to worry about people warning you regarding the bad manner. It's absolutely polite to slurp your udon in Udon restaurant!

Below are some of our favourite udons!

Tsukimi udon: simple udon with milky taste of soup (after mixing the raw egg with the soup)

Tsukimi tororo udon 月見とろろうどん: It contains Dioscorea opposita (yamaimo or chinese yam), which is a type of yam that can be eaten raw.

Tempura udon: Sya's favorite

Udon can be a side dish too!

Big bowl of udon that comes with shrimp donburi- ayah's favorite

The volume is really big! Two big bowls...can you finish them?

We once drove about two hours to a famous udon restaurant/shop in Kagawa prefecture. It was last year, January. There were a few famous Udon restaurants in Kagawa and this shop was listed as one of the best. People came from all over Japan just to try the udon here. We were so curious so we finally made our trip there.

It was cold...in the middle of nowhere...

There was no proper parking space. People just parked along the road.

We arrived at around 11 am but the line was already so long when we got there! The people up front came around 8am...gosh!

So we waited...

and waited...

Till Sya was so bored and decided to play with the snow...

After an hour wait, we finally arrived at the entrance, but not quite there yet as there were many people in the shop but they had only 11 seats available!

Ayah had plain udon without soup...just udon and green onions. He dipped some soy sauce to taste. It was really good!

My choice...with a raw egg. By the way, there were only two choices in the menu. Udon with or without egg!

Obviously people who came here were not looking for tempura or soup or any frills that can go along with udon. People come here to taste the real udon. The great texture, the springiness, the chewiness of the udon. 5 stars for this shop!! Hubby had three bowls and I had two bowls. It was just simply delicious. We truly understood why people would wait for hours just to taste the udon.

When we were finished with our lunch, the line was already closed.

I sincerely hope the person who stood last in the line would get a taste of the udon. It would be a shame if he didn't cause he had waited for hours!

Below is a good review by two foreigners regarding the udon shop. Whatever they say is true!


Cat-in-Sydney said...

Aunty Nana,
Oooo....oishi neh? I'm thinking...what if we have udon with kuah laksa? You know...am a cat...must have fish lor! purrr....meow!

My Putri said...

wow..so yummylicious.. my favourite too..
tapi kat restoran kat malaysia ni , udon cam ade letak MSG byk jer ?...feel so thirsty n headaache after tht... but taste mmg good la..

Nana said...

Dear Cat-in-Sydney,
Yes, Angie! Udon is a good substitute for mee laksa! So, when we feel like eating laksa, Udon is the best choice of noodle for us in Japan! And it tastes good too!

Nana said...

Dear Sofea,
Restaurants in Japan are generous about MSG. They use MSG quite often. A lot of Japanese ready made sauce has MSG. So I am not surprised if you notice it. For your info, Ajinomoto is a Japanese company. ;)
I too can tell if they use MSG in cooking. I personally don't use it at home but there is no evidence that says Ajinomoto is harmless...so far! :)

i amsterdam said...

Hmm i love soupy things, but i've never tried udon yet. How nice is it? It looks watery & yet the queue was sooo longgg !!!

Whatever it is... by the time i get to the end of the post, my tummy is rumbling... hmm udon with laksa?? Hmm.. nak makannn...

Nana said...

Dear i amsterdam,

Udon can be eaten with many combination. You want gempak, then you can try eating with lots of tempura. If you want simple, just with soy sauce so the taste will be just soy sauce. It's the texture of the noodle that we really enjoy. Good udon is springy! You will know it when you've tried.
Yeah, yeah...udon with laksa sup. Sedap!!

Uncle Lee said...

Hi Nana, saya malu to say I have not eaten udon before.
For some reasons I do not have Japanese food on my list to eat, nor italian.
Vietnamese, Thai saya suka.
Love your pics and your very descriptive and eloquent mention....
I can imagine why people come to eat, and to wait.
Thats food for you....once its good....your bank manager will be on first name basis with you, ha ha.
Have fun and happy udon eating....

Nana said...

Dear Lee,
No problem! When you have the courage to step into a Japanese restaurant, don't hesitate to ask for udon! It should suit your taste I must say. You can try the curry udon. The taste should be quite close to mee curry in Malaysia. :)
Is Japanese cuisine popular in Canada? There are so many examples of nice Japanese food. Raw fish and sushi is just 10% of what Japanese eat. Their daily dish is delicious. And of course, they are all well cooked! ;)

Post a Comment