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  • In this episode: UDON noodles adventure: Tokyo to Sakuni

  • Created & Produced by: John Daub

  • ONLY in JAPAN

  • Ah, a steaming bowl of UDON noodles.

  • These thick wheat noodles comes in so many varieties!

  • It's a great meal any time of the day, and in Japan it's so popular that you'll find it everywhere.

  • In the super market, next to the instant Ramen,

  • you've also got UDON.

  • Here's a cup UDON

  • The noodles are a little thicker, and the soup different than Ramen

  • UDON can be bought frozen

  • or fresh, in the refrigerated area, next to the Tofu

  • there are so many styles to choose from!

  • Everyone has their own preference.

  • But where does the best UDON comes from?

  • Let's take a trip to the UDON country.

  • The best UDON comes from SHIKOKU island

  • in a prefecture on the North: KAGAWA

  • Here lies the SANUKI region where some of the country's best wheat is grown.

  • The capital city is TAKAMATSU

  • and you can't dismiss their love for noodles

  • You are greeted by them, right at the airport!

  • My first stop is in ZENTSUJI CITY, famous for the square watermelon...

  • and this place which makes handmade noodles, fresh, every day.

  • MIYAGAWA SEIMENSHO

  • Starting at the crack of dawn,

  • the wheat, water and salt are mixed and rolled.

  • UDON Ingredients: wheat, water, salt

  • MIYAGAWA has been making the UDON for decades

  • The thickness of the noodles is ruled by instinct. (Udon thickness 4 to 6 mm)

  • It's then cut...

  • ...the machines do it fast...

  • ...every noodle even.

  • You can see that is cut thick.

  • It's floured again, so it doesn't stick and then stored.

  • Or boiled right away, depending on demand.

  • The store only closes, when all the noodles are sold out.

  • Now it's time to try a bowl for breakfast, on a hot summer day.

  • It's all self-served, which is the system all throughout KAGAWA

  • Grab a big one, for more noodles, if you're hungry

  • ....take it to the kitchen...

  • where you'll get a healthy serving of fresh UDON directly from the Chef

  • We're not done, yet.

  • You can warm them up, if you like.

  • This helps to bring up the flavors of the noodles.

  • Put the noodles in there. For 5 seconds.

  • Do like this --- and for 5 seconds.

  • 1 - 2

  • 3

  • 4

  • 5 seconds!

  • Soup!

  • Now the soup:

  • Udon soup it's fish based and salty

  • MIYAGAWA has a big cauldron. So, help yourself.

  • All right...

  • There really is fish in there!

  • What is dashi?

  • Fish soup stock made from KOMBU (sea kelp), KATSUOBUSHI (dried skipjack Tuna). It is the base for miso soup and takoyaki sauce!

  • And add some fish, too.

  • Let's take a few.

  • MIYAGAWA UDON DASHI has IDIKO, or sardines.

  • Wow!

  • Take as many as you like.

  • or just a few.

  • Ok, now soup CHECK!

  • Ok.

  • Right! First try the UDON a little like this.

  • Then you can add tempura.

  • Yes!

  • Now that you got a bowl of basic UDON and soup,

  • grab a seat.

  • So she told me that first, I should try to drink it...

  • and...

  • if you want more flavor, go back, and get the toppings that you want

  • That make sense!

  • That make sense...

  • Salty!...

  • Salty.

  • You can taste the DASHI, the fish soup.

  • And a little bit of the noodles...

  • the weed and that...

  • Yeah, it needs more

  • Ok, one fried tofu.

  • Put it on like this, right?

  • We're back, the next part is a lot of fun.

  • Then perhaps a half boiled egg.

  • Picking your favorite TEMPURA.

  • But the most popular is "chikuwa".

  • CHIKUWA?

  • It's not an easy decision.

  • Ah, but that half boiled egg looks so darn good!

  • It's really good!

  • Ahhhhhhh!

  • You really are lost, aren't you?

  • Ahhh, should I go for the

  • half boiled egg

  • or the CHIKUWA

  • which is the deep fried

  • fish... fish stick

  • Yeah!

  • Well, let's go with the half boiled egg this time.

  • Tomorrow, I'll go for the chikuwa.

  • Yes.

  • So, when do I pay?

  • Pay after eating.

  • Perfect!

  • Thank you very much!

  • With a little NEGI

  • It looks like a full sized meal now.

  • Look at that half boiled egg!

  • I'll get to that soon.

  • This place is great, you just walk in, you pick the bowl that you want

  • based on the size, how many noodle helpings

  • one, two or three...

  • You go to the cauldron,

  • where he's got all the noodles freshly made,

  • he puts it in there,

  • you decide if you want hot or cold,

  • by boiling it yourself,

  • then you pick your own toppings

  • Just like, twenty of them!

  • And then you eat it in a place like this

  • and the price is very affordable.

  • This is like UDON paradise.

  • But how about the taste???

  • Only one way to find out!

  • Many people have told me that the noodles are firmer than in Tokyo.

  • Yeah...

  • Compared to Tokyo, the noodles are a little bit...umm...harder.

  • More rubbery.

  • Which is goooood!

  • Very good!

  • UDON is much thicker than the Ramen noodles

  • usually cut 4 to 6 mm thick.

  • While Ramen noodles are yellowish in color from

  • other ingredients, like eggs.

  • UDON is simple wheat flour, salt and water.

  • The soup or broth, well that's a different story.

  • It's DASHI: fish based, but of course, here lies each soup's secret

  • The taste must match the noodles.

  • Eh, it's fish!

  • But wait! I hope you haven't forgot about Hanjuku Tempura Tamago

  • That half boiled egg is all mine!

  • Soft and delicious.

  • Is something just really so good about Hanjuku Tamago - half boiled eggs

  • The shop is almost always packed with locals who know about the secret location

  • at lunchtime, the line goes out the door

  • People devouring their bowls

  • Sometimes in less than three minutes

  • The fun is taking what you want

  • and constructing your own perfect bowl of UDON

  • When the tables and chairs are full

  • Eaters head to the benches outside

  • get there early and have your own table.

  • You have to find your own spot to sit.

  • It's first come, first served

  • Miyagawa-san is constantly hard, at work

  • But she took a few minutes to sit with me

  • to talk about her delicious UDON noodles

  • How many years have you been working at this shop?

  • This shop? 40 years.

  • 40 years!

  • Wow!

  • You're making udon every day?

  • Yes, every day.

  • Why is Miyagawa Udon so delicious?

  • The water is pure here and...

  • the shop's old lady is a real beauty!

  • That's right! Beautiful!

  • The water and...

  • well, the wheat is pretty much the same everywhere...

  • The water and...

  • and because of love!

  • You put love into it.

  • That's right! LOVE!LOVE!

  • So that's Zentsuji or Sanuki's way...