Houtou vs. Udon vs. Kishimen: What’s the Difference?
A wide variety of wheat noodles can be seen in Japan, among which the ones for Ramen and Udon are admittedly the most common.
As with the noodles for Ramen, the Udon noodle comes in various varieties, and here in Japan, there is even a regional specialty similar to Udon.
The Udon-like noodle is a specialty of Yamanashi Prefecture called Houtou (ほうとう), also spelled as Hoto.
And further, the wheat noodles for Houtou are similar in appearance to a noodle of Nagoya called Kishimen (きしめん).
Then, how do Houtou and Kishimen differ from Udon? Today, for the unfamiliar, this article will explain the difference.
Houtou (Hoto) vs. Udon Dishes
While, as you know, dishes using Udon noodles are widely available in Japan, Houtou or Hoto is a food locally eaten in and around Yamanashi Prefecture.
Specifically, Houtou is a noodle soup dish made by simmering thick flat noodles and vegetables in a miso-based broth made with Niboshi (dried young sardines) and is usually served hot.
Typical vegetables used in the Houtou soup include pumpkin, edible roots, and mushrooms, and unlike Udon noodles, the wheat noodle for Houtou contains no salt. Besides in texture, the noodles are soft and not bouncy.
However, Houtou doesn’t always use such thick flat noodles. In fact, in some areas of Yamanashi, the locals prepare chunks from grains other than wheat for Houtou.
Udon vs. Kishimen vs. Houtou (Hoto) Noodles
A Noodle Soup Dish with Kishimen Noodles
Nagoya’s Kishimen noodle consists of the same ingredients as Udon, wheat flour, salt, and water, and its production process is also similar to Udon.
However, Kishimen noodles are different from Udon in that they are flat with a wide shape.
Specifically, in the case of dried noodles, the definition of Udon is a wheat noodle whose long diameter is from 1.7 mm to 3.8 mm.
On the other hand, Kishimen is a wheat noodle whose width is 4.5 mm or above and whose thickness is less than 2.0 mm.
In contrast, as you can guess from the above, the noodle for Houtou (Hoto) has no such standards.