Udon: 30 Days of Japanese Food

udon, japanese food, japanese dishes, noodles in japan, types of udon

Udon: 30 Days of Japanese Food


Day 18: Udon

Well, I’ve already covered two of the major types of noodles in Japan: ramen and soba. So now it’s time for the third: udon.

The main differences between the three is the size of the noodle and what it’s made from. Udon is the thickest of them all and you can really tell the difference. It’s made from wheat-flour (as opposed to the buckwheat of soba) and you can also taste the difference.

udon, japanese food, japanese dishes, noodles in japan, types of udon

The most common way to serve udon is in a big bowl of warm broth with a collection of added flavours and foods. There will almost always be some spring onions on top because that’s the standard udon recipe, but the other bits and pieces can vary depending on the region and your preferences. Common additions are prawn tempura, kamaboko (that weird pink and white fish-flavoured thing that tastes like rubber), tofu or seaweed.

It’s a dish that has been in Japan for centuries. There are various stories about when it was first eaten but one tale claims it can be traced all the way back to the ninth century when a Buddhist priest travelled to China to study and brought back the recipe with him.

udon, japanese food, japanese dishes, noodles in japan, types of udon

The udon I had in the Akusaka suburb of Tokyo was a particular type called ‘nikomi udon’. It’s a heartier bowl than some of the others and is closer to a stew in some ways. It came with mushrooms, seaweed, pork and leek. There was also a semi-raw egg that slowly cooks itself unless you quickly stir it into the broth with your chopsticks.

udon, japanese food, japanese dishes, noodles in japan, types of udon

This bowl of udon cost 800 yen (US$8.15) at a small but very popular restaurant (it was packed when I arrived but I ended up being the last to leave!). It should also be noted that one day I grabbed a quick and very simple bowl of udon with no extra food for just 350 yen (US$3.55), so there are much cheaper options if you’re looking for them.

You can check out the whole list of Japanese food dishes here


  • zoomingjapan | Apr 19, 2013 at 12:21 am

    I love udon!!
    And there are so many different types! I’m a huge fan of “sanuki udon”! ^^

    • Michael Turtle | Apr 24, 2013 at 2:42 pm

      Sanuki udon, eh? I’ll take your recommendation and try to find some to try!

  • Bino / Frameless World | Apr 22, 2013 at 3:25 am

    Among the three noodles, I only tried soba (Yakisoba). Aside from the 2nd image which is look so yummy, the way you described Udon made me want it to try it now.
    Bino / Frameless World recently posted..Ki Gompa – Largest Buddhist Monastery in Spiti ValleyMy Profile

    • Michael Turtle | Apr 24, 2013 at 3:08 pm

      Udon is the one which is most unique in Japan, I think. Ramen tastes like noodles you’ve probably had at Chinese restaurants before, soba tastes a bit more like Italian pasta, but I hadn’t had anything like udon before. It’s definitely worth trying.

  • David @ Shikoku | Apr 29, 2013 at 8:20 pm

    Yeah! A post about Udon! But no mention of Sanuki? Sad…
    David @ Shikoku recently posted..Kinza (“Being Given”) on NaoshimaMy Profile

    • Michael Turtle | May 10, 2013 at 1:58 am

      I never found any sanuki anywhere. I guess I was in the wrong part of the country.

      • David @ Shikoku | May 10, 2013 at 2:05 am

        Sanuki is the name of the province (it’s the old name of Kagawa prefecture), Sanuki udon is a type of udon. While it’s from Kagawa/Sanuki, it’s pretty much the most common udon in Japan.
        On your pictures, the udon looks like sanuki udon, but the broth has a lot of added elements in it.
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