For the second part of my series on what I ate in japan I will share a few noodle highlights with you! Noodles in Japan can be divided roughly into three categories: ramen, udon and soba. Although soba is also eaten on its own, cold, or as part of a stir-fry, udon and ramen are (almost) always served in or with broth. Ramen noodles are yellow and vary in thickness from very thin to medium depending on the restaurant; Udon noodles are very thick and white; and, finally, soba noodles are thin noodles made from buckwheat flour, which gives them a light brown and slightly speckled appearance.
In Japan, the art of making and eating ramen is taken so seriously it verges on a religion. Sadly, I haven’t managed to master the essential slurping technique, but I have eaten my fair share of good ramen nonetheless. There are many different styles of ramen, but our favourite was probably tonkotsu ramen, which can be seen in the above photo. Tonkotsu is a rich and fatty soup made from pork bones and toppings include succulent slices of fatty pork, spring onions, nori seaweed and soft-boiled eggs.
And here is another bowl of tonkotsu ramen with two sides: fried gyoza and a bowl of rice with pieces of cha-sieuw meat and thinly sliced long green onion.
We ate this bowl of udon noodles in a traditional little restaurant in Fuji-Yoshida at the foot of Mount Fuji. The broth was incredibly light and subtle and the thick white udon noodles had a great bite and mouthfeel. The toppings were also generous, tasty and healthy: enoki and shimeji mushrooms, Japanese spinach, leek, boiled fish paste, vegetable tempura, fried tofu and a soft poached egg.
We ate this delicious soba dish for lunch at a little restaurant in Nara. The soba noodles were served in a light broth with edible wild plants. These wild Japanese vegetables were an absolute revelation: crunchy, salty and incredibly flavourful!