NOODLES IN JAPAN
Hello, welcome to one of the most important moments of my noodle-loving life: making an epic (culinary) trip to Japan! It included not one, not two, not three, but ten noodle encounters in the fifteen day period were were on Japanese soil. Not sorry one bit.
Anyone who knows me knows that when faced with the difficult question of what food I want to eat, 9 times out of 10 it's going to be noodle related. I've had some good noodles in my day, from Grandma's chow mein to Soba Ichi's handmade soba and am all about the chewiness of a well cooked noodle. But the noodles in Japan? Now *that's* what I'm talking about!!! They were plump and chewy and flavorful and bouncy and I would have knit myself a blanket out of them and kept them forever if I could. Alas, I ate them all and left no noodle unturned uneaten!
Rather than simply recount my noodle adventures, I thought I'd show you evidence of these ten noodley meals. In no particular order (though, I do have a favorite which I'll highlight later! any guesses?) here's the array of noodles I voraciously slurped on our trip to Japan:
- Kake udon at Marukame Udon in Shibuya, Tokyo
- Tempura zaru soba at Shiro in Shibuya, Tokyo
- Tempura udon at Tempura Bar Akiko in Asakusa, Tokyo
- Kake udon at Miyatake Sanuki Udon in Tokyo Skytree
- Vegan ramen at Afuri in Shibuya, Tokyo
- Tea leaf noodles at d:matcha cafe in Wazuko, Kyoto
- Homemade vegan ramen at our Airbnb experience in Ibaraki
- Zaru Soba at this mom & pop restaurant that we don't remember the name of in Gion, Kyoto
- Tamago tempura udon at Chikusei Udon in Takamatsu, Kagawa
- Zaru soba at Hakone Ginza Mitsukoshi in Ginza, Tokyo
Of all the noodles we slurped on our trip, my absolute favorite -- and perhaps one of the best meals of my life -- was the udon with tempura egg in Takamatsu (above, lower left). I would gladly hop on a plane from SFO to Tokyo, take 2 shinkansen trains to Uno Port, a ferry ride, and a mile walk to stand in line again at Chikusei udon just to have those noodles and broth again. It was such a fun experience watching the woman batter and fry the eggs and then watch the noodles get rolled out and chopped while you waited to order, then walking happily like a kid searching for easter eggs taking our bowls of noodles (which, btw only cost ¥290, equivalent to less than $3 USD) and topping my bowl with as many green onions and tempura bits as possible. The best part was breaking into the egg with a chopstick and the richness of the broth as the yolk and dashi broth combined. TAKE ME BACK!
While that udon experience in Takamatsu won them all, we also had an epic homemade ramen noodle making class that we took through Airbnb experience. We added flour, salt, and water to a bag and kneaded it with our feet. Yup, our feet. Then we rolled the dough out, sliced it, and voila! Handmade noodles for the win! I did look it up and apparently rolling noodle dough with your feet is actually a thing if kneading with your hands is too tiresome. Kneadless to say (see what I did there) we ate our noodle-loving hearts out and learned a lot about how time intensive making broth and noodles from scratch can be. Next time I want to make ramen or udon noodles I'm definitely inviting friends over so they can help step on it to knead it real good.
And for evidence we ate other things besides noodles, here's a rare sighting of me enjoying a croquette at Nishiki Market in Kyoto. It was crispy and delicious. Yet, not quite as good as noodles.