With the cold weather, I’ve been enjoying more and more soup based dishes.I felt that I should continue a post on Japanese food today. It was either that or a snapshot on Tokyo’s Shinjuku district. The food won me over!
Japanese noodle based dishes can be served with any mealeither hot or cold.It is perfectly acceptable to show how much you enjoy your noodles by slurping them! It may seem rude in Western culture, but in many circumstances in Japan, it’s considered appropriate. There are many different types of noodles, like Italian based pastas, but I thought I’d cover the most common 7 or 8 today.
I would consider ramen noodles to be the most popular among Japanese noodles. They are everywhere, from Top Ramen to $100 restaurant quality dishes, odds are you have at least heard of them. I am one of the people who survived off cheap Top Ramen in college. Ramen noodles are traditionally best served hot. They are made up of wheat and are longer than Udon noodles. The dough used to make the ramen noodles is allowed to rise before they are rolled and cut. Ramen noodles are typically served in a broth. The noodles can be firm and are a pale golden or yellowish color. Ramen noodles were introduced to Japan from China through trade. If you order a ramen count on it to have some type of meat and veges with it. Eggs may also accompany it.
The number two type of noodles in Japan you will encounter are udon noodles. Udon is typically served as a cold dish in summer and hot in winter. The noodles will be also made of wheat like the ramen noodles, but appear as a whiteishcolor. Udon noodles are the thickest ones in Japanese soup dishes. Udon dishes will come with dipping sauces to pour over the noodles in summer months when it’s warmer weather.
Soba noodles are the first of the buckwheat noodles you will encounter. They are brownish in color due to the wheat it comes from. The noodles can be fragile. Soba is usually served as a cold dish in summer and hot in winter. Size wise they are about the size of a spaghetti noodle. My absolute favorite dish is yakisoba. Yakisoba is a chicken based dish that has different seasoning depending on the region of Japan you are traveling to!
Shirataki noddles are probably the chewiest of the Japanese noodle family They are not my favorite texture as they can be a bit rubbery. Shirataki noodles are clear in color and come from the kanjac yam. These noodles are best for people that have a lot of allergies as most people can eat them. They are kind of bland when they come out. I’ve been is served cold most of the time. They are usually short noodles.
Somen noodles taste like udon noodles, but they are the thinnest noodles you will find. They are made from wheat and is traditionally served cold with dipping sauces. A lot of somen noodle manufacturers will add an extra oil to this noodle to give it more flavor. Somen noodles are one of my favorites to have in summer.
Yet another wheat based white colored noodle that is usually a medium size. Think of it as the link between udon and somen noodles. Hiyamugi noodles taste like somen noodles and are well known for their different colors. I think the color I’ve encountered the most is pink! They are a cold dish noodle and are a stable for college kids in Japan. Like udon and somen, the dipping sauces you can throw over hiyamugi noodles are endless.
This noodle comes from starch and is usually made from mung beans, yams or potatoes. This noodle is popular in Japanese salads and is best served cold. The noodle is clear and is very thin. A lot of vegeatbles will get mixed in with the noodle and is can look more brown or yellowish due to soy sauce.
You made it to the last noodle! Tokoroten noodles are very small and thin and will appear clear like jelly. Tokoroten comes from seaweed and is very stringy. It is usually a cold dish noodle and is often mixed with soy sauce or a sweeter sauce. Tokoroten noodles are not as common on their own, but at least you know what they are! They are a little too chewy for my liking. This noodle is one of the oldest and most traditional noodles that from to Japan from China in the Nara period.
Did reading about all these noodles make you hungry? It made me hungry. Hope this helps you know a little bit about what types of noodles you may encounter when you travel to Japan or dine out at a Japanese restaurant. Until next time, happy travels!