While searching for things to do and eat around Lake Kawaguchiko, a dish called “Houtou noodles” often pop up in search engines and trip advisor. It is a local dish originated from the Yamanashi prefecture in Japan. There are a couple of Houtou Noodles specialty restaurants around Lake Kawaguchiko and while looking for one, we passed by the Kosaku Houtou Noodles shop and decided to try it here. For those driving, there’s a free carpark space right in front of the shop so it’s very very convenient.
Upon entering the premises, you have to remove your shoes and there are shelves for you to keep your shoes. A very strong aroma of miso filled the air and we were hungry instantly! What made me even more excited is the traditional japanese seating. Rows and rows of short tables are lined on a ratan floor and the pillows are your seats. Some tables are placed on top of a hollowed floor so that people who are not use to sitting on the floor with your legs crossed underneath can opt to sit on those tables as you will look like you’re sitting on the traditional pillows but your legs are actually hanging underneath.
We were greeted with a pictorial Japanese menu and a separate word-only English menu. As I know some Japanese and Chinese characters, I chose my lunch from the Japanese menu. Although I knew this, it was still strange to see that in Japanese, pork (猪肉) is written as Dolphin meat (豚肉) in Kanji. I’ve always wondered why, because Kanji is basically traditional chinese wordings. So don’t be surprised and thought it’s dolphin meat because it’s not… it’s just pork, and, that’s what I’ve ordered, the Buta Houtou (1400 yen). We have also ordered pumpkin houtou and mushrooms houtou, some fresh tofu with kimchi and a tempura rice set.
The fresh tofu and kimchi came first, presumably because it is more like an entree I supposed. This dish is pretty common in Japan and Korea (hence the kimchi) and they both go very well together. Their kimchi was actually quite good considering we are not in Korea.
When our noodles finally arrived, I was so excited. It was served on a hot metal cauldron like bowl with an enormous spoon. The noodles are thick (kinda reminded me of the Malaysian Pan Mee noodle, or the chinese knife shaved noodles) and it’s filled with hearty vegetables like potatoes, pumpkins, and greens. All houtou noodles probably have the same soup base just with different toppings depending on what you have ordered. While tasting the soup, I feel like it tasted somewhat familiar. It suddenly hit me that it tasted like the usual “ABC soup or Loh Song Tong” my mom cooks all the time, but, with the addition of miso paste. Of course, I could be wrong but it tasted like that to me. This dish of noodles basically spells comfort food to me on a cold day and it was PERFECT! It’s exactly what we needed on that cold winter’s day and it’s very comforting, especially for the elderly in the family as their first proper meal in Japan, to know, that Japanese food are familiar and tasty.
Come with an empty stomach because its a huge bowl of noodles. Also, because the broth was so good, you would want to try to finish every drop. If you love what you’ve eaten and would like to recreate this dish, there’s a mini shop right at the counter of the restaurant where they sell packaged Houtou noodles that you can buy and bring back home.
I didn’t buy any and because I had a theory of what it was, I tried making my own version of Houtou noodles a few weeks ago. The hubs says it was pretty spot on. I will post up a recipe for this in the future! But, if you are visiting Lake Kawaguchiko and would like to taste the real deal, you can find this restaurant with the details as below:
Japan, 〒401-0301 Yamanashi-ken,
Open daily from 11am-9pm
Until the next post, keep experimenting~!