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Kake udon
Place of originJapan
Serving temperatureHot or cold
Main ingredientsWheat flour

Udon (饂飩, usually written as うどん) is a type of thick, wheat-flour noodle used frequently in Japanese cuisine. It is often served hot as a noodle soup in its simplest form, as kake udon, in a mildly flavoured broth called kakejiru, which is made of dashi, soy sauce, and mirin. It is usually topped with thinly chopped scallions. Other common toppings include tempura, often prawn or kakiage (a type of mixed tempura fritter), or aburaage, a type of deep-fried tofu pockets seasoned with sugar, mirin, and soy sauce. A thin slice of kamaboko, a halfmoon-shaped fish cake, is often added. Shichimi can be added to taste.

The flavour 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. This is noticeable in packaged instant noodles, which are often sold in two different versions for east and west. Currynanban is another popular variation, served in curry broth.


A chef rolling up the dough to make Udon

There are many stories explaining the origin of udon.

One story says that in AD 1241, Enni, a Rinzai monk, introduced flour milling technology from Song China to Japan. Floured crops were then made into noodles such as udon, soba, and pancakes in Japan which were eaten by locals. Milling techniques were spread around the country.

Another story states that during the Nara period, a Japanese envoy was introduced to 14 kinds of confection while being in China during the Tang Dynasty. One of them was called sakubei (索餅), which was listed as muginawa (牟義縄) in Shinsen Jikyō (新撰字鏡), a dictionary which was published in the Heian Era. The muginawa is believed to be an origin for many kinds of Japanese noodles. However, the muginawa in Shinsen Jikyō was made with wheat and rice flour.

Another story for udon claims that the original name of the noodle was konton, which was made with wheat flour and sweet fillings.[citation needed]

Yet another story says that a Buddhist priest called Kukai introduced udon noodles to Shikoku during the Heian Era.[citation needed] Kūkai, the Buddhist priest, traveled to Tang China around the beginning of the 9th century to study. Sanuki Province claimed to have been the first to adopt udon noodles from Kūkai. Hakata claimed to have produced udon noodles based on Enni's recipe.[citation needed]


Udon noodles are boiled in a pot of hot water. Depending on the type of udon, the way it is served is different as well. Udon noodles are usually served chilled in the summer and hot in the winter. In the Edo period, the thicker wheat noodle was generally called udon, and served with a hot broth called nurumugi (温麦). The chilled variety was called hiyamugi (冷麦).

Cold udon, or udon salad, is usually mixed with egg omelette slices, shredded chicken and fresh vegetables, such as cucumber and radish. Toppings of Udon soup are chosen to reflect the seasons. Most toppings are added without much cooking, although there are also deep-fried tempura. Many of these dishes may also be prepared with soba.


Tempura udon
Kitsune udon
  • Kake udon (in Kantō) or Su udon (in Kansai): Hot udon in broth topped with thinly sliced green onions, and perhaps a slice of kamaboko.
  • Kitsune udon: "Fox udon". Topped with aburaage (sweetened deep-fried tofu pockets). This originated in Osaka. Kitsune udon is often mistaken for Tanuki udon. (Similar also is Inari-zushi).
  • Tanuki udon (in Kantō) or Haikara udon (in Kansai): Topped with tempura batter pieces. Tanuki udon is often mistaken for Kitsune udon.
  • Tempura udon: Topped with tempura, especially prawn, or kakiage, a type of mixed tempura fritter.
  • Tsukimi udon: "Moon-viewing udon". Topped with raw egg, which poaches in the hot soup.
  • Wakame udon: Topped with wakame, a dark green sea vegetable.
  • Karē udon: "Curry udon". Udon in a curry-flavoured soup which may also include meat or vegetables. Biei, Hokkaido is famous for a unique curry udon.
  • Chikara udon: "Power udon". Topped with toasted mochi rice cakes.
  • Stamina (sutamina) udon: "Stamina udon". Udon with various hearty ingredients, usually including meat, a raw egg, and vegetables.
  • Nabeyaki udon: A sort of udon hot-pot, with seafood and vegetables cooked in a nabe, or metal pot. The most common ingredients are tempura shrimp with mushrooms and an egg cracked on top.
  • Kamaage udon: Served in a communal hot-pot with hot water, and accompanied by a hot dipping sauce of dashi sukiyaki.
  • Yaki udon: Stir-fried udon in soy-based sauce, prepared in a similar manner to yakisoba. This originated in Kitakyushu of Fukuoka Prefecture. (Note that while yakiudon is made with udon, yakisoba is not made from buckwheat soba, but with steamed Chinese-style ramen.)
  • Miso-nikomi udon: a local dish of Nagoya, a hard udon simmered in red miso soup. The soup generally contains chicken, a floating cracked raw egg that is stirred in by the eater, kamaboko, vegetables and tubers. The noodles are extremely firm in order to stand up to the prolonged simmering in the soup; additionally, the noodles do not contain salt, so as to avoid over-salting from the salt in the miso.
  • Hōtō udon: a local dish of Yamanashi Prefecture, a type of miso soup with udon and vegetables. One of the significant differences between usual udon and Hōtō udon is salt. When Hōtō udon is made, salt is not added to the noodle dough.
  • Oyako udon: chicken and egg, with sliced onion in a sweetened dashi soup over udon. It has a sweet savory flavor.
  • Curry nanban is a non-traditional udon soup served in a spicy curry broth. The term nanban is a reference to the Nanban trade which had influenced Japanese culture for a century before being banned in 1639 by the Edo Shogunate.[1]


Mori udon
Tororo udon served with grated yamaimo, served cold
  • Zaru udon: Chilled udon noodles topped with shredded nori and served on a zaru ( or ざる), a sieve-like bamboo tray. Accompanied by a chilled dipping sauce, usually a strong mixture of dashi, mirin, and shoyu. Eaten with wasabi or grated ginger.
  • Bukkake udon: Cold udon served with thick dashi-broth.[2]
  • Hadaka udon (naked udon 裸うどん): Cold udon served on its own.
  • Kijōyu udon: Served in a cold soup of raw (unpasteurized) soy sauce and sudachi (a type of citrus) juice, sometimes with a bit of grated daikon.

Regional varieties[edit]


There are wide variations in both thickness and shape for udon noodles.

  • Gōsetsu udon (豪雪うどん): a slightly translucent, chewy type from Kutchan, Hokkaido. Literally "heavy snow udon", made from the starch of potatoes. The texture is different from normal udon which is made from flour. At the foot of Mount Yōtei, Hokkaido, the biggest producing area of potatoes, "potato starch udon" was eaten as a home food for farmers from long ago. The ratio of potato starch and wheat flour was improved to make it delicious even after a long time. The origin of the name "heavy snow udon" is the foot of Mount Yōtei, a heavy snowfall area, and the appearance of the noodles which is slightly translucent like snow.[3]
  • Inaniwa udon (稲庭うどん): a thin type from Akita Prefecture.
  • Mimi udon (耳うどん, literally "ear udon"): a lucky preserved food in Kuzu, Tochigi. It looks similar to ears.
  • Himokawa (ひもかわ): an extreme flat and wide type from Kiryū, Gunma.
  • Hōtō (rarely 餺飥, commonly ほうとう): a flat and wide type, usually cooked with vegetables, particularly kabocha, from Yamanashi Prefecture.
Kishimen,at the udon noodle stand-bar in the Shinkansen platform of Nagoya Station
  • Kishimen (棊子麺, or more commonly きし麺): a flat type from Nagoya.
  • Ise udon (伊勢うどん): a soft type, usually eaten with sweet soy sauce, from Ise, Mie.
  • In Kansai region, a soft and medium thickness type is popular.
  • Sanuki udon (讃岐うどん): a thick and rather stiff type from Kagawa Prefecture.
  • Hakata udon (博多うどん): a thick and soft type from the Fukuoka.
  • Dango-jiru (団子汁): similar to the above Hohtoh, from Ōita Prefecture. Nominally a "dumpling soup", it resembles very thick, flat udon.
  • Saitama Prefecture has several varieties of udon.
    • Kazo udon (加須うどん): produced in Kazo, Saitama, a place of active wheat production. Its very orthodox hand-kneading process characterizes Kazo udon noodles.
    • Fukaya Nibōtō (深谷煮ぼうとう): a type of hotoh from Fukaya, Saitama. Boiled noodles using plenty of Fukaya green onions characterize Fuyaya Niboto udon.
    • Konosu kawahaba udon (こうのす川幅うどん): originated of Kōnosu, Saitama in 2009. it is characterized by its width that is as wide as eight centimeters.
    • Niiza ninjin udon (新座にんじんうどん): originated of Niiza, Saitama in 2002. The noodles are kneaded with carrot and are characterized by their vivid orange color.
  • Sara udon (皿うどん): a specialty of Nagasaki Prefecture. Literally "plate udon," consisting of thinner udon that are deep fried and served with any of a number of toppings.
  • Okinawa soba (沖縄そば): also called suba, a regional Okinawan noodle made by adding some vegetal ash to the flour, similar to how ramen is made. However, it is very similar to udon.


Udong, Korean-style udon noodle soup with crowndaisy greens and eomuk (fish cakes)

In Korea, authentic Japanese udon dishes are served in numerous Japanese restaurants, while the Korean-style udon noodle soups are served in bunsikjip (snack bars) and pojangmacha (street stalls). Both types are called udong (우동), which is the transliteration of the Japanese word udon (うどん).[4] In Korea, the word udong refers to noodle dishes (typically noodle soup), while the noodles themselves are called udong-myeon (우동면; "udong noodles") and considered a type of garak-guksu (가락국수; "thick noodles").[4] Common ingredients for udong noodle soup include crowndaisy greens and eomuk (fish cakes), neither of which are very common in Japanese udon dishes.


There is also a dish called udon in Palau, because of the former Japanese administration. The broth is soy sauce–based like Japanese udon. However, as there were many immigrants from Okinawa, it uses less broth like Okinawa soba. Most notably, the noodle is that of spaghetti, as it is easier to acquire there.

Tourism and udon[edit]

Model bowl of udon and menu at baggage counter in Takamatsu Airport.

Kagawa prefecture is well-known throughout Japan for its Sanuki udon (讃岐うどん). It is promoted to other regions of Japan through means such as mascots, udon-related souvenirs, as well as movies featuring udon as the main theme.[5]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ Itoh, Makiko (2015-05-15). "Nanban dishes are fit for a barbarian". The Japan Times. Retrieved 2019-01-16.
  2. ^ Gritzer, Daniel. "Make a splash with bukkake udon (Japanese cold noodles with broth)". Serious Eats. Retrieved 2017-01-27.
  3. ^ "豪雪うどん | うどん ミュージアム 【うどん 博物館】". Udon Museum (in Japanese). Retrieved 25 April 2018.
  4. ^ a b "udong" 우동. Standard Korean Language Dictionary. National Institute of Korean Language. Retrieved 15 March 2017.
  5. ^ "UDON - 作品 - Yahoo!映画". yahoo.co.jp.
  • Tsuji, Shizuo. (1980). Japanese cooking: A simple Art. Kodansha International/USA, New York. ISBN 1568363885