Yoshida's Udon 吉田のうどん
Te-uchi UdonFujiyoshida's Favorite Dish
by Phillip Cummings
Fujiyoshida is not only known for its proximity to Japan's iconic mountain; the city also has a rich history of making delicious noodles. People travel from far and wide to eat 'Yoshida Udon' at one of approximately 60 local shops that have mastered this unique and tasty dish.
Yoshida Udon has been around for a long time. Japanese flour-based noodles are said to have come from the Kansai region (Osaka/Kyoto). In Fujiyoshida, te-uchi udon, is a thick, hearty, and chewy noodle that is unique to this region.
Aside from the texture, its taste stands out. It's said that the pure water used to make the noodles and broth makes all the difference - as proven in failures to duplicate the simple recipe in other locales.
In addition, a batch of te-uchi udon noodles is made daily, usually in full view of the customers. The recipe for the noodles is quite simple, involving not much more than flour, salt, and water, but the rapid preparation gives them their "backbone." Yoshida's style of te-uchi udon is famous for its firmness, and is made from scratch and not allowed to soak or boil very long. One interesting fact is that in Japan, udon is usually made from American flour, which is said to make better noodles than local flour.
Time to Eat!
The most disappointing thing about Yoshida udon is that it's usually only eaten for lunch. Only a few shops are open in the evening. The reason is that while it is easier to eat out for lunch, most people dine at home for dinner. However, it is still possible to find a restaurant serving udon for dinner or as a late night snack after a round of drinks with co-workers. A good bowl of udon will make one break out in a sweat and open the sinuses. Apparently, its also known for being a good cure for hangovers.
Ordering and Eating
The udon of Fujiyoshida is also unique for the way in which it is ordered and eaten. In some places you are supposed to write down the order and give it to the chef yourself (those of you lacking confidence in Japanese can just tell a server). A typical order includes the name of the menu item, size, and quantity. Most shops do not have book menus; patrons glance at the list hanging on a wall or in front of the kitchen and order before sitting down. Water or green tea is free and self-service.
Styles of Udon
There are a number of ways in which udon is served. Some shops make even more styles than those listed here, while others specialize in only one. The following is meant as an introduction to this variety.
Many udon shops offer an extra plate of noodles called "tama." This is an economical way to maximize noodle intake without buying another bowl of soup.
Here are some of the varieties most frequently encountered by the teuchi udon connoisseur. Vegetables found in udon include cabbage and green onions.
● Kake: Basic noodles and soup
● Tsuke: Noodles come on a separate plate; add 'em yourself
● Niku: Meat (it varies by the shop but pork, horse, and beef are typical)
● Tanuki: Similar to agedama with bits of fried tempura batter
● Kitsune: Fried tofu
● Tempura: Vegetable tempura
● Nikuten: Meat and vegetable tempura
● Tentama:Tempura and egg
● Chikara: Noodles and mochi
● Tsukimi: Raw egg
● Curry: Curry soup
● Yumori: Noodles in hot water topped with fish flakes; soy sauce and green onions added to taste
● Nabeyaki: High-temp vegetable stew prepared in special ceramic bowl. A healthy mix of vegetable, this dish is cited by dieticians as the most vitamin-rich of all soba and
I hope you enjoy exploring the myriad of teuchi udon restaurants in Fujiyoshida--there are about 60! Bon appetit and good hunting!
For maps and reviews about Yoshida's over 60 famous Udon shops, click on the following links:
Yoshida's Official Udon Page and map (Japanese)