Now, I've always considered myself quite the noodle connoisseur, but I had never heard of the houtou noodle before. Originating in Yamanashi prefecture, Japan, the noodles are like thicker versions of udon, but flat, ribbon-like and looooong. It is served in a miso broth with many vegetables and meats, in a heavy steel pot. Nabeyaki style.
Naoko and her mom took me to a place in Yamanashi that specializes in houtou, called Kosaku.
There are many varieties of houtou, including venison. Game is widely served in this part of the country.
Plastic displays not for eating.
The interior of the restaurant was very homey, old-Japan style. Many people can sit around this table and admire the steel fish.
I didn't really know what to expect, but one thing was certain: I better be hungry.
I ordered the oyster houtou, as it was proudly hand-written as a seasonal special on the wall.
However, as Yamanashi is a landlocked part of the country, I really should have gone for the meat variety. But the kabocha pumpkin was sweet and delicious.
Here is the actual noodle. So thick! So long!
The contents of this soup included sansai ("greens of the forest"), kabocha, shiitake, carrots, and even potatoes. Yamanashi's winters are harsh, so I imagine that this is the ultimate heart-warming, comfort food in this region. Especially with such a hearty miso broth, this was certainly a meal for lumberjacks and burly hunters. Ha. I kid. Actually, according to the Wiki page, houtou was considered the poor-man's food until restaurants such as Kosaku started popping up around town. I guess adding ingredients like oysters and gochujang is considered a montrosity to locals. Ain't modern life grand??
I bet houtou would be great first thing in the morning, before heading out for school or work, getting ready for the icy cold day ahead.
Burrrrrr. I love California. Time for some ice cold somen!