🍜 Somen-y Noodles
⑧ Somen (そうめん）
Now we're starting to leave known territory, starting with somen, a favorite summer treat throughout Japan. It's no surprise that somen (thin, fragile little wheat noodles) haven't made it overseas, since they're often eaten at home―boiled, chilled in ample cold water, and then served with a tsuyu dipping sauce. Sometimes, however, this simple dish is taken to the next level with "nagashi somen" (流しそうめん)
. Instead of just serving the chilled noodles in a normal dish, nagashi somen uses flowing water and bamboo pipes (or sometimes specially built machines) to keep the noodles swirling through cold water before being eaten.
⑨ Hiyamugi (冷麦)
Hiyamugi are like a slightly thicker version of somen, and they're even less well-known, especially outside of Japan!
🍜 Regional Specialties
Mostly found in their places of origin, these regional noodle varieties are inherently harder to find―but definitely worth the trouble!
⑩ Okinawa Soba (沖縄そば)
It sounds like buckwheat soba, looks like hearty udon, but has its own unique flavor profile: it's Okinawa soba
, from Japan's chain of beachy southern islands. Another dish that uses the word "soba" just to mean noodles (and not buckwheat), Okinawa soba noodles are similar to udon, but generally a little slimmer, with a slightly more ramen-like texture and accompanying broth. The soup is generally made with a base of Japanese bonito dashi and pork broth, and toppings continue to go heavy on the pork, whether it be belly, trotters, or even snouts!
⑪ Hoto (ほうとう)
Finally, we're going from Okinawa soba, found on warm southern islands, to hoto noodles
, a hearty option perfect for warming you up during a cold-weather visit to Yamanashi Prefecture
. Unless you've been to Yamanashi, there's a good chance you've never even heard of these! Texturely, hoto noodles aren't actually such a huge step away from the wheat-based chew of Okinawa soba, but their broad shape and rich broth make for a totally different eating experience. (If you happen to be visiting Oita Prefecture instead, check out their dangojiru (団子汁), a soup with similar wide noodles!)
Which noodles are you craving now?
Have we whet your appetite? Let the Japankuru team know if we taught you about any new Japanese noodle dishes, and tell us which noodles you wish you were eating right now, on twitter
, and facebook