AMPONTAN

Japan from the inside out

Noodle news

Posted by ampontan on Monday, August 25, 2008

IN THE MOOD for some noodles, but can’t decide between ramen and udon? If you’re in Kurashiki, Okayama, you’re in luck, because now you can have the best of both worlds.

Furuichi Ryoichi, the proprietor of the local Furuichi restaurant, has created a noodle dish he calls ra’udon that is winning acclaim in Kurashiki culinary circles. The combination is said to look like ramen, but taste like udon.

Mr. Furuichi developed yellow noodles of medium thickness with the body of udon, and which are somewhat elastic and chewy. He combines these in a ramen bowl with a Japanese-style broth made from chicken, dried konbu (a type of kelp), and a generous portion of shaved bonito. As condiments, he adds barbecued pork slices (as with ramen), seasoned bamboo shoots, and narutomaki, a type of fish paste. He also incorporates two types of water. The local supply, which is rich in calcium, goes into the noodles, and a slightly briny water is used for the broth. Those who have sampled his new noodle soup say it has a complex taste, and from this description I’d be inclined to agree.

Ra’udon was not created from a sudden inspiration—Mr. Furuichi intentionally set out to invent a new noodle dish. Considering the long history of noodles in this part of the world, achieving that goal required considerable imagination and self-confidence, as well as a long period of trial and error. He visited China several times to conduct research, which gives you an idea of his determination. It’s not every noodle shop owner who would invest the time or money to do field work overseas.

If you’d love to try some, but aren’t going to be in Kurashiki any time soon, here’s some good news. Mr. Furuichi does not seem to be the type to keep his light under a bushel. In February, he registered the name “Ra’udonmen” (拉饂飩麺) as a trademark.

So perhaps ra’udon will be served at a shop near you (in Japan) sometime soon. If that happens, I’ll be one of the first customers!

One Response to “Noodle news”

  1. Haneul said

    Ra’udon has already been sold as a fast food in Korea already for more than 3 years, by a company named Nong Shim.
    Might want to check that out; it tastes pretty good.

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