4 Must-Try Traditional Japanese Noodles for Summer

It is getting hotter and hotter day by day here in Japan, so I’m feeling the coming of summer.

These days when I shop at the convenience stores where I often go for lunch, I definitely buy a chilled precooked noodle dish, such as chilled Ramen and Udon.

4 Must-Try Japanese Summer Noodles

As you know, Ramen and Udon are usually served hot in a bowl and widely enjoyed throughout the year, while the 4 traditional Japanese noodles I’m going to introduce today are definitely served cold and something like a Japanese summer tradition.

Tokoroten (ところてん)

Tokoroten seaweed jelly noodles

Tokoroten is one of the most commonly eaten noodles in the hot summer season in Japan. It is a traditional Japanese noodle whose origin gates back to the Japan’s Nara Period (710 to 794).

Actually, Tokoroten is made from seaweed, “Tengusa (天草)” or “Ogonori (オゴノリ)”, and mostly consists of 98 to 99 percent of water and agarose.

Hence, the seaweed noodle is very low in calories, only 1.9 kcal per 100 g. From the ingredient, it is clear or translucent in color and has a smooth, slippery texture.

Many Japanese usually eat Tokoroten seaweed noodles with “Sanbaizu (三杯酢)” vinegar sauce as a side dish or a snack food, but in the Kansai region around Osaka, it is often eaten with brown sugar syrup as a dessert or a sweet treat.

Tokoroten is available at almost any supermarket in Japan during the summer season.

Kuzukiri (葛切り)

Kuzukiri kudzu jelly noodles

Kuzukiri is a Japanese jelly noodle that looks similar to Tokoroten, but as the name indicates, its main ingredient is kudzu arrowroot starch.

Unlike Tokoroten noodles, actually Kuzukiri can be enjoyed throughout the year.

It is not only eaten as a confection with brown sugar syrup in the summer, but the kudzu noodle is also used as an ingredient for Japanese hot-pot dishes like “Yosenabe (寄せ鍋)” in the winter.

It is said that the confection with Kuzukiri has its roots in Kyoto, where there are many confectionery shops offering them. Besides, many convenience stores in Japan handle the sweets during the summer.

Somen (素麺) and Hiyamugi (ひやむぎ)

Somen wheat noodles

Somen and Hiyamugi are different things, but they look almost the same thing.

Actually, both Somen and Hiyamugi are traditional Japanese noodles made with wheat flour, water, and salt. Then, what is the difference?

The answer is: Somen and Hiyamugi are different only in long diameter. Somen is less than 1.3 mm in long diameter, while Hiyamugi is what has the long diameter of 1.3 to less than 1.7 mm.

However, the above definitions only apply to machine-made Somen and Hiyamugi.

When the wheat noodles are produced by hand labor, Somen and Hiyamugi have the same definition, that is, what is less than 1.7 mm in long diameter.

During the summer, dried Somen and Hiyamugi noodles are sold in most grocery stores in Japan. They are boiled, chilled with cold water, and then served often with ice cubes on a plate or in a bowl.

We eat the noodles dipping in a soy-sauce-based Mentsuyu sauce each time.

(Reference pages : Wikipedia ところてん, 葛切り, ひやむぎ )


Hi, I'm Tomo, a Japanese blogger living in Niigata Prefecture, Japan. For the purpose of enriching your life, I would like to introduce things about Japan on this blog, especially unique Japanese products, cooking recipes, cultures, and facts and trivia.

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