One of Japan’s authentic ‘fast foods’, Ise Udon has been enjoyed since the Edo era, more than 400 years ago. Udon are thick, white noodles made from wheat flour, known for their characteristically soft, almost fluffy texture. Ise Udon is best enjoyed eaten with ‘dashi’ (a Japanese soup-stock) made from edible kelp, bonito flakes and ‘niboshi’ (dried sardines), along with ‘tamari’ – a rich, dark-coloured soy sauce that is salty-sweet in flavour.
According to Japanese literature, visitors to Ise Grand Shrine in the Edo era were given Udon immediately upon arrival at the shrine, to provide them with something light and easy on the stomach after their long journey. Since the noodles were kept continuously on the boil, they remained soft and ready to eat at all times, and so visitors did not have to wait for the dish to be prepared. It is from this custom that Ise Udon is derived.
The following saying, roughly translated as: “white as snow , thick as egg, and about ten drops of sauce as black as ink: if you like Udon, you’ll eat five or six!” has been ascribed to Ise Udon. At first sight, the deep black colour of the sauce can look a little off-putting to novices, but after a single mouthful you’ll be amazed by the noodles’ characteristic smoothness compared to other types of noodles. It is because of its light, easy-to-digest nature that Ise Udon is well-known as a good ‘healing food’ for anyone who is ill or simply tired.
※In summer, Ise Udon is also eaten cold!