A noodle dish that is more traditional than most of the noodle dishes you are familiar with in Japan, is this one called umen. Made out of only salt water and flour, these noodles are often served with a flavorful broth topped with scallions, vegetables, and tofu. Umen is a short type of noodle, with lengths of up to 10 cm each, which is easy to eat.
Also called Shiroishi umen, this noodle is a specialty of Shiroishi City located in the Miyagi Prefecture. Considered a somen, which is a thin type of noodle, umen is said to have been around for 400 years. As the story goes, the noodle was made by a young man who wanted to serve his sick dad noodles but couldn't do so because noodles were usually made with oil. He met a monk who taught him how to make noodles using only salt, flour, and water. That's when the umen noodle was born.
Umen can be served hot or cold but these have to be softened in hot water first before it can be eaten since these are dry noodles. Just like any other noodle in Japan, you can serve umen in a broth with a variety of toppings. Some of the more popular options include shrimp tempura, vegetables, and meat. The broth has to be flavorful since these noodles are made simply with flour, salt, and water.
When served cold, umen can be dipped in a variety of sauces. These include the usual shoyu, strong black sesame sauce, and nutty walnut sauce. These can be served in a bowl or in a basket, depending on what type of umen you choose to eat. You can also choose to buy the dry noodles to take home and enjoy any way you like. These white noodles come in single serving packs that make it easy for you to cook an individual serving for yourself.