It is a satisfying yet light dish that will leave you full but not stuffed.
The beauty of a bowl of udon is the simplicity of it all; a bowl of thick, chewy noodles, swimming in a light and tasty broth. Add a handful of seaweed or some green onions for garnish and you’re done.
I ate this bowl of udon every morning for three summers during high school, when I lived with my Japanese extended family, the Fukudas. The noodles and broth were imported straight from Japan, and my aunt would make it fresh daily. She would throw in some vegetables once in a while, sometimes tofu or tempura. It was always so delicious.
I crave udon a lot when I am sick, because it is really easy on the stomach and you can add shichimi to make it spicy while clearing your sinuses.
When you order udon at a Japanese restaurant, there might be one version or ten versions. If you aren’t familiar with the different types, it’s hard to know what to order.
Below is a cheat sheet so you can familiarize yourself with different preparations of udon, and be sure to look for them next time you are out ordering yourself a bowl.
- Kake udon or just, udon, is a basic bowl of udon with broth, a garnish and slice of fishcake.
- I have seen Tempura udon on a lot of restaurant menus, it is probably the most common version you will see. Tempura udon comes with tempura, usually shrimp tempura, but anywhere that has vegetable tempura will add or replace the shrimp upon request (if its not on the menu)
- Nabeyaki udon is also a popular menu item, I have seen it in a lot of Japanese restaurants. It’s like udon with the works – a lot of different seafood and vegetables cooked in a hotpot, with egg. Very satisfying.
- You will usally see Zaru udon listed next to Zaru Soba. Zaru udon is a cold noodle dish, the udon noodles come on a plate with a side of dipping sauce made of dashi and shoyu (soy sauce). Its good to eat on a hot day, and a good substitute if you don’t like soba noodles.
- Less often I see Kitsune udon. It comes with sweet deep-fried bean curd. This is my favorite type of udon to order. The fried bean curd is really delicious, and it is not that sweet, but does deepen the flavor of the broth.
- Wakame udon is seaweed udon. It has a LOT of seaweed in it and it makes the broth taste like seaweed as well. It can be overpowering sometimes if you are not used to it. Some people mistake it for tasting fishy, but it’s the seaweed that gives it that intense sea flavor.
- Karē udon or curry udon is made with Japanese curry. Sometimes it's very thick, like a spaghetti sauce, and sometimes it’s more like a thick soup. It usually comes with vegetables and meat.
-Chikara udon is another one of my favorites that I don’t usually get to eat too often. It is udon with fried or grilled mochi. If you see this on the menu, you should get it, its really hearty and supposedly good for you.
I hope that you can enjoy some udon and that it fills your hearts and stomachs as much as it does mine.
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Aria Juliet Castillo (ariajuliet)
I'm a graphic designer, originally from Hawaii and now I'm living it up in L.A. I've been a vegetarian my entire life, but I am still obsessed with fast food, and I love eating … more
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Udon is a type of thick wheat-flour noodle popular in Japanese cuisine.
Udon is usually served hot as noodle soup in a mildly flavoured broth, in its simplest form as kake udon, served in kakejiru made of dashi, soy sauce (shōyu), and mirin. It is usually topped with thinly chopped scallions. Other common toppings include tempura, often prawn or kakiage (a type of mixed tempura fritter), or abura age, a type of deep-fried tofu pockets seasoned with sugar, mirin, and soy sauce. A thin slice of kamaboko, a halfmoon-shaped fish cake, is often added. Shichimi can be added to taste.
The flavor of broth and topping vary from region to region. Usually, dark brown broth, made from dark soy sauce (koikuchi shōyu) is used in eastern Japan, and light brown broth, made from light soy sauce (usukuchi shōyu) is used in western Japan. This is even noticeable in packaged instant noodles, which are often sold in two different versions for east and west.
In China, similar thick wheat flour noodles are called cū miàn. This original udon was 2 to 3 cm in diameter, a flat pancake-shaped "noodle" added to miso-based soup.
The origin of udon in Japan is credited to Buddhist priests who traveled to China: local areas specifically attribute Kūkai or Enni. Kūkai, a Buddhist priest, traveled to China around the beginning of the 9th century to study Buddhism. Sanuki Province claimed to have been the first to adopt udon from Kūkai. Enni, a Rinzai Zen monk, went to China in the 13th ...