Udon is a Must-Try for a Real Japanese Noodle Experience

Everyone knows the most popular noodle dishes for Japanese are ramen, soba and udon. Why then, we wonder, does udon seems to be mentioned less often and receive less attention from international visitors?
Here, I would like to let you know where and how to experience UDON, our fascinating, traditional Japanese noodle.

Udon is usually available at soba restaurants because most soba restaurants serve both soba and udon.
We know you want to know the difference…so here we go!

Soba(そば): thin, dark colored noodle made from buckwheat.
Udon(うどん): thick, white noodle made from wheat flour.

When you place your order at soba restaurants, you'll find only a series of toppings on the menu served with (or on top of) the noodles. Sometimes, though, the choice of soba or udon does not appear on the menu (most likely because Japanese clientele know that their choice is available as a matter of course).

The three basic steps to order are selecting from the following;
1. Soba or Udon (type of noodles)
2. Hot or cold
3. Plain or with extra toppings

Hot udon is served in a bowl with hot soup broth, while cold udon is served with a separate sauce or soup for dipping.

The typical topping for Udon is shrimp Tempura or vegetables.

Here are some popular Udon options;

Kake udon(かけ うどん): hot soup udon noodle
Zaru udon(ざる うどん): cold udon with dipping sauce or broth
Tempura udon(天ぷら うどん): hot soup udon with tempura
Kitsune udon(きつね うどん): hot soup udon with fried bean curd

I would like to recommend you visit udon speciality restaurants such as “Marukame Udon” or “Hanamaru Udon”.

You will not feel less stress because they show menu with photos and you'll enjoy watching the restaurant staff boiling udon noodles or frying fresh tempura right in front of you.

Marugame Udon(丸亀うどん)

Hanamaru Udon(はなまるうどん)

Anyway, when you order Udon, please do not forget the following points;
Udon or Soba: when you order, name "soba" or "udon" to restaurant staff.
Hot or cold: if you want hot, order "Astui-no(hot)" , if you want cold, order "Tsumetai-no(cold)".
Toppings: you can pick up by yourself any one you want at the order counter in the fast food style Udon restaurants. If you are supposed to purchase a ticket in advance from a vending machine, you should choose your favorite one checking photos or samples in the showcase and note the number or name of the menu. Also, if in doubt, just feel free to ask in very slow English and we are sure someone in the restaurant will help you out.


by Hagi

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