The 3 Best Udon Noodle Brands in Japan
Ramen, Soba, and Udon are noodle dishes that represent Japan. These noodle soups are not only widely enjoyed in Japan but also fairly well-recognized in many countries around the world.
Among them, regarding Udon noodles, have you ever heard that there are Udon brands that are generally known as “Japan’s 3 Best Udon Noodles”?
Japan’s 3 Best Udon Noodles
To get to the point, it is said that “Sanuki Udon (讃岐うどん)” and “Inaniwa Udon (稲庭うどん)” are two of the 3 Best Udon noodles. The former is a specialty of Kagawa Prefecture, while the latter is the Udon noodle brand Akita Prefecture boasts.
However, when it comes to the rest, 4 regional Udon noodles are picked out as potential candidates, which are “Mizusawa Udon (水沢うどん)” from Gunma, “Goto Udon (五島うどん)” from Nagasaki, “Himi Udon (氷見うどん)” from Toyama, and “Kishimen (きしめん)” from Aichi.
Actually, the Udon to be selected as the rest depends on the selection criteria and the opinion varies from person to person, but today, for the unfamiliar with these Japanese Udon noodle brands, let me briefly introduce each of them.
Sanuki Udon (讃岐うどん)
Sanuki Udon is the Udon brand that Kagawa prides itself on, and the prefecture Kagawa is the largest consumer of Udon noodles in Japan. The main characteristic of Sanuki Udon is that the noodles are, above all, thick and very chewy. They are served in a soy sauce-based dashi-rich broth made with Niboshi small sardines. The leading Udon restaurant chain with over 800 branches throughout Japan, “Marugame-Seimen (丸亀製麺)” is offering Sanuki Udon.
Inaniwa Udon (稲庭うどん)
Inaniwa Udon originated in the southern part of Akita Prefecture. In the old days, this Udon had been presented to feudal lords and the Imperial royal family, and commoners weren’t able to have the Udon noodles until 1972. Featuring its smooth and slippery texture, Inaniwa Udon is a hand-stretched fine wheat noodle made without using oil.
Mizusawa Udon (水沢うどん)
The production area of Mizusawa Udon is in and around the town of Ikaho, Gunma Prefecture, whose Onsen hot spring is nationally famous in Japan. This local Udon noodle is thin yet bouncy, and clear white in color. Mizusawa Udon is usually served cold and is eaten by dipping in a soy-sauce-based dashi-rich broth or a flavorful sesame sauce.
Goto Udon (五島うどん)
Known as a specialty of Nagasaki Prefecture, Goto Udon has over 1000 years of history. The thin wheat noodle has a distinctive, smooth, chewy texture, and when it goes down, it gives the back of the throat a pleasant sensation. Made using camellia oil, the Udon noodle has a unique flavor and hardly gets soggy over time.
Himi Udon (氷見うどん)
As its name indicates, Himi Udon is the regional Udon noodle eaten in and around the city of Himi, Toyama Prefecture. This Udon brand also has a long history and its origin is said to date back to the mid-Edo period, about 300 years ago. Made using no oil, the wheat noodle is rich in flavor. Himi Udon is thin yet bouncy and has a smooth, slippery texture.
Kishimen is one of the specialty foods of Nagoya called “Nagoya Meshi (名古屋飯)”. Unlike other Udon noodles, this Udon noodle is characterized by its flat shape. Kishimen has such a slippery texture that the noodles go down smoothly, and compared to average Udon noodles, it is soft.