This Udon Museum will open on December 22nd from 11:00 in the Gion area of Kyoto. Udon is a thick noodle made from wheat flour. With all the variations out there – over 45, including noodle shape, thickness, soup varieties, ways to be eaten, included ingredients and cooking procedures – it makes perfect sense to have a ‘Udon museum’!
One of the best things about Japan is its vast and comprehensive food culture where a wide variety of culinary dishes can be enjoyed. Japanese people take great pride in their ‘washoku‘ (Japanese food), with multiple varieties of the same dish according to geographical location. Different areas have their own version of country cooking, sweet or savory, which becomes that area’s ‘meibutsu‘ or speciality, often times giving that area a name which they become famous for. So it is with Udon.
The Udon Museum is a place where you can go to learn about the different types of noodles, what they are called, where they are from, and the history or story behind how they are made. There is a restaurant area where they provide half-sized orders of any noodle dish you would like to try so that you can compare the differences in noodle, ingredients, and soups. They also have a gift shop where you can buy your favorite kinds to take home as gifts or for yourselves!
Here’s a map with the different kinds of udon listed under the different areas. Just by looking at the long lists of names, we can see just how varied a dish udon is!
Udon noodles are basically made from a dough consisting of wheat flour and salt water. The dough is usually stretched out to the desired thickness then cut into manageable lengths to be boiled and added to a soup, or cooled to be dipped in sauce in the summer. Another variation is when fresh water is used and the noodles are not pre-boiled but stewed in a nabe, or earthenware pot, often with a miso soup base.
It is said that udon noodles originally came from China and started out as a sort of snack food. It took until the Edo period for udon noodle shops to start popping up and for noodle making to spread to different areas of Japan. Each area interpreted the noodle making information to suit their own tastes, and various ways of making, eating, and serving the noodles were born. Despite originally coming from the same recipe, udon noodle making varies vastly across the country, meaning that each version has its own particular characteristics. You can learn about these intricate details at the udon museum.
Who’d have thought that there was so much to a simple bowl of noodles? Sample as many of Japan’s noodle variation as you can at the museum from this Saturday!