The Japan’s 3 Best Udon Noodles Brands
When I think of representative Japanese noodle dishes, what come to my mind are the Japan’s 3 major noodle soups, Ramen, Soba, and Udon. These are popular not only in Japan, but also well-recognized in many countries.
Among them, speaking of Udon noodles, have you ever heard that there exist several kinds of Udon brands that are called “Japan’s 3 Best Udon Noodles”?
Japan’s 3 Best Udon Brands
To get straight to the point, it is generally said that “Sanuki Udon (讃岐うどん)” and “Inaniwa Udon (稲庭うどん)” are the two brands of the Japan’s 3 Best Udon noodles, which are known as specialty foods of Kagawa Prefecture and Akita Prefecture respectively.
However, when it comes to the last one, 4 local Udon brands are picked out as possible candidates. They are “Mizusawa Udon (水沢うどん)” from Gunma Prefecture, “Goto Udon (五島うどん)” from Nagasaki Prefecture, “Himi Udon (氷見うどん)” from Toyama Prefecture, and “Kishimen (きしめん)” from Aichi Prefecture.
The features of the Japan’s 6 local Udon brands
Actually, the Udon to be selected as the rest depends on the selection criteria, so the opinion varies from person to person.
Today for those who are interested in the Japan’s 6 local Udon noodles brands that are considered the possible candidates for “Japan’s 3 Best Udon Noodles”, here I will talk about their features.
Sanuki Udon (讃岐うどん)
Sanuki Udon is the Udon brand that Kagawa boasts. The prefecture, Kagawa is known as Japan’s top consumer of Udon noodles. The main characteristic of Sanuki Udon is that the noodles are, above all, thick and very chewy. The soup stock made with small sardines is rich in flavor and seasoned mainly with soy sauce. The leading Japanese Udon restaurant chain, “Marugame-Seimen (丸亀製麺)” with about 800 Udon specialty restaurants throughout Japan is well-known for offering Sanuki Udon.
Inaniwa Udon (稲庭うどん)
Inaniwa Udon has its roots in the southern part of Akita Prefecture. This Udon was what had presented to feudal lords and the Imperial royal family of Japan for a long time, so commoners weren’t able to have the udon noodles until 1972. Inaniwa Udon is a fine wheat noodle stretched by hand with no use of oil and is characterized by its smooth and slippery texture.
Mizusawa Udon (水沢うどん)
The production area of Mizusawa Udon is in and around the town of Ikaho, Gunma Prefecture, whose hot spring is nationally famous in Japan. This local Udon noodle is clear white in color and features having a thin yet chewy texture. Mizusawa Udon is usually served cold and is eaten by dipping in a soy-sauce-based Dashi-rich broth or an aromatic sesame sauce.
Goto Udon (五島うどん)
Goto Udon is known as a specialty of Nagasaki Prefecture, and its origin is said to date back to more than 1000 years ago. The round thin wheat noodle has a unique texture with smoothness and chewiness, and when it goes down, it gives the back of the throat a pleasant sensation. The wheat noodle is characterized by its distinctive flavor that comes from the use of camellia oil, and hardly becomes soggy over time.
Himi Udon (氷見うどん)
As the name indicates, Himi Udon is the Udon brand eaten in and around the city of Himi, Toyama Prefecture. This Udon also has a long history and it is said that the origin dates back to the mid Edo period, about 300 years ago. The wheat noodle is thin yet very chewy and features having a smooth, slippery texture. Himi Udon is known for being rich in flavor as it is made without using oil.
Kishimen is famous as one of the specialty foods of Nagoya called “Nagoya Meshi (名古屋飯)”. This Udon noodle has a flat shape quite different from other Udon noodles. One primary characteristic of Kishimen is its slippery texture that enables the noodle to go down smoothly. Compared to general Udon noodles, Kishimen is soft.