The chewy, seemingly endless udon noodle is always a comfort food when think about Japanese cuisine. Though it is not delicate as sashimi or expensive as ramen but udon still has a charming seduction to all the foodies.
Do you know how many kinds of udon in Japan? And why do we love it so much? Let’s find out with this article

1. The story of Udon
Udon noodles are made by mixing flour with lightly salted water, then kneading, stretching, and cutting the dough into thin strips. It is said that udon also came to Japan from China around the Nara period. One of the interesting things about udon is that the thickness and hardness of the noodles varies from region to region. For example, noodles called kishimen and hoto are flat and wide, while those known as somen are very thin. There are so many different styles that you can go to almost any region in Japan and taste that area’s special udon.
The flavor of broth and topping vary from region to region. Usually, dark brown broth, made from dark soy sauce (koikuchi shōyu), is used in eastern Japan, and light brown broth, made from light soy sauce (usukuchi shōyu), is used in western Japan.


2. The Udon’s Family
Like many Japanese noodles, udon noodles are usually served chilled in the summer and hot in the winter. Toppings are chosen to reflect the seasons. Most toppings are added without much cooking, although some are deep-fried.

* Zaru Udon (cold)
Zaru Udon noodles are chilled and served on a bamboo mat. They are accompanied by a dipping sauce and are dipped into the dipping sauce before eating. It is very similar to Zaru Soba, with the only difference just being the type of noodles.
* Kake Udon (hot)
Kake Udon is a basic udon dish, served in a hot broth that covers the noodles. It has no toppings and is usually garnished with only green onions. Kake Udon is also known as Su Udon in the Osaka region.


* Kamaage Udon (hot)
Kamaage Udon noodles are served in hot water, accompanied by a variety of seasonings and a dipping sauce. Some places have individual servings of Kamaage Udon in small wooden bowls while others serve family sized portions of Kamaage Udon in large shared wooden noodle tubs.
* Tanuki Udon (hot/cold)
Tanuki Udon is served in a hot broth topped with leftover deep fried tempura batter (tenkasu). Tanuki Udon is not usually served in Osaka as tenkasu is often available for free at udon restaurants there.
* Kitsune Udon (hot/cold)
Kitsune Udon is served in a hot broth with aburaage, thin sheets of fried tofu, placed on top of the udon noodles.
* Tsukimi Udon (hot)
Tsukimi Udon (“Moon Viewing Udon”), like its soba counterpart, features a raw egg on top of the udon noodles, which is meant to resemble the moon.

* Tempura Udon (hot/cold)
Tempura Udon is usually served in a hot broth with the tempura pieces placed on top of the noodles. Sometimes, the tempura is placed on a separate dish beside the bowl or tray of noodles. Tempura ingredients vary between seasons and shops.
* Curry Udon (hot)
Curry Udon is udon noodles served in a bowl of Japanese curry. It is a popular dish to eat in winter as it is very warming. Because eating curry udon can a messy, some restaurants offer disposable bibs. When they are not offered, please take care when eating curry udon as the udon noodles are prone to splash curry on nearby clothes.
* Chikara Udon (hot)
Chikara Udon is udon noodles served with the addition of a rice cake (mochi) in the hot broth. The Japanese word “chikara”, meaning strength, is used as it is thought that the addition of mochi to the dish gives strength to the person eating it.

* Nabeyaki Udon (hot)
Nabeyaki Udon is a dish that is cooked and served in a hot pot (nabe). The udon noodles are cooked directly in the nabe together with the broth and vegetables. Tempura is a common addition before serving, but the more typical ingredients include mushrooms, egg, kamaboko (a pink and white steamed fish cake) and various vegetables. Many shops will serve this dish only during the colder months of the year.

3. How to eat a bowl of Udon?
Depending on how your udon are served, the way of eating differs. When udon are served with a dipping sauce, take a few strands of noodles and dip them into the sauce before eating them.

Udon served in a soup or sauce are enjoyed by using your chopsticks to lead the noodles into your mouth while making a slurping sound. The slurping enhances the flavors and helps cool down the hot noodles as they enter your mouth. If there is a broth, it is drunk directly from the bowl, eliminating the need for a spoon. It is not considered rude to leave some unfinished soup in the bowl at the end of the meal.


4. Where to find them in Hanoi?
There are plenty of restaurants in Hanoi that served udon but just a few of them is qualified.
Here are some Japanese restaurants where you can try them:
Nijyu Maru
Address: 35 Quang Trung Street, Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi
Opening hours: 11:00am – 11:00 pm
Address: A105-106, D5, Tran Thai Tong Street, Cau Giay District, Hanoi | Add 2: 17T7 Trung Hoa Nhan Chinh Street, Thanh Xuan District, Hanoi
Opening hours: 10:00 am – 10:30 pm
Address: 2nd Floor, Nikko Hotel, 84 Tran Nhan Tong Street, Hai Ba Trung District, Ha Noi
Opening hours: 11:30 am – 2:00 pm | 6:00 am – 10:00 pm
Mirai – Sushi & Sake
Address: 2D Quang Trung Street, Hoan Kiem District, Ha Noi
Opening hours: 10:00 am – 10:00 pm
Address: Lake Side Hotel, 23 Ngoc Khanh Street, Ba Dinh District, Ha Noi
Opening hours: 11:00 am – 2:00 pm | 5:30 pm – 10:00 pm
Address: 107A5 KTT Giang Vo, Kim Ma Street, Ba Dinh District, Ha Noi
Opening hours: 10:00 am – 10:00 pm


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