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Goto Udon: One Heavenly Hell Pot

Udon is typically made with just three ingredients: wheat flour, salt and water. However, Goto Udon contains a secret fourth ingredient: Camellia oil from the local mountains.

Team JJ

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Japan is a haven for noodle lovers. With various types and even more regional variations, there’s something for everyone. Among the heavy hitters is udon, a thick, wheat noodle beloved by locals. In summer, it can be served chilled, but on a cold winter’s day, there’s nothing like leaning over a bowl of udon and inhaling the promising aromas of the broth.

During a recent trip to Nagasaki, on Japan’s southern Kyushu Island, I learned of a local variation of the dish, called Goto Udon. This version originates from the Goto Islands, a chain of islands known for their connection to the hidden Christians. After reading about the history of the islands and the dish, I knew a visit was in order.    


What makes Goto Udon different?  

Udon is typically made with just three ingredients: wheat flour, salt and water. However, Goto Udon contains a secret fourth ingredient: Camellia oil from the local mountains. This indigenous favourite acts as a preservative and gives the noodles an extra silkiness when cooked.   

But, the oil isn’t the only local ingredient to speak of. There’s also Goto flour, spring water and even salt farmed from the surrounding seas. With all ingredients locally sourced from the Goto Islands, it’s fair to say you’ll never try another noodle like it. 

The methods used to produce Goto Udon further set it apart from other varieties. The dough is repeatedly hand-twisted and pulled in a traditional method called ‘te-yori’ which dates back over 1,000 years. This results in a uniquely soft yet springy texture that noodle lovers simply must try. While you can find the dried noodles in souvenir stores shops all over the islands, as well as in Nagasaki, the real fun is in eating them hot and fresh.  

(You can read the rest of the article at this link. This article was first published by Team JJ on March 2, 2021. Check here for deeper and unique insights into visiting Japan, including wellness, travel, cuisine and more. Find us on Instagram and on Facebook.)

Author: Japan Journeys

Tokyo based Japan Journeys delivers the inside scoop on travel destinations, tips and experiences. Visit their website to discover more about Japanese culture, great travel itineraries and the very best things to do in Japan.