When I’m asked about gourmet cuisine in Yamanashi, of course the first thing that comes to mind is “hoto”, a popular noodle dish. Today I’ll be introducing hoto, as well as two other gourmet dishes that are just as delicious.
1.This list wouldn’t be complete without hoto
One of the appeals of Yamanashi cuisine is that there are many local dishes which make use of flour. This includes hoto, as well as ozara and otsuke dango.
Hoto is made with kneaded wheat flour dough noodles, which are then boiled together with miso and vegetables. The noodles are cut roughly, and unlike other kinds of noodles, they differ in length. This gives them a uniquely varied chewiness and texture.
Also, the noodles are not always made only with wheat flour; sometimes other kinds of grains are used, producing different colors.
Generally, the noodles are wider and shorter than udon noodles. The dough is not left to sit, and no salt is added. Instead, the noodles are boiled fresh.
The soup is made from either Koshu miso or Shinshu miso. Pumpkin is a staple ingredient, and vegetables are the focus of the dish. Local restaurants often add meat, while families usually use fried tofu when making hoto at home.
Next up is ozara. While it’s similar to zaru udon, it’s best to think of it as cold hoto “tsukemen”, or dipping noodles. Hoto noodles are soaked in chilled water, and dipped in warm sauce when eaten. Because the sauce becomes thinner as you eat the noodles, it’s made to be rather strong. Meat and vegetables are also included in the sauce. While hoto is miso-based, ozara sauce is typically made with soy sauce. The noodles are also often a little different from those used in hoto, so it can be interesting to order both hoto and ozara from the same restaurant and see how the noodles compare.
While hoto is available year-round, ozara is often only offered up in the summer months, so be sure to get it while you can.
3.Locally grown watercress
Finally, I’d like to introduce watercress. While watercress grown in Hiroshima and our neighboring prefecture Nagano is perhaps more popular, the watercress from Doshi, a village in Yamanashi, is also famous. It has even begun popping up in guidebooks recently. Doshi is in the south of Yamanashi, close to Kanagawa. While there are no railroads that run through the village, it may be accessed by bus or bicycle from either Tsurushi Station or Fijisan Station, or from any of the interchanges on the Chuo Expressway. Watercress is sold at roadside stations in Doshi, and restaurants also offer cuisine made with locally grown watercress. There are even some rare dishes, like watercress udon and tsukemen, and fresh juice. You won’t find these anywhere else, so I recommend trying these udon and tsukemen, which showcase the refreshing flavor of watercress. They’ll go down a treat.
This post is also available in: Japanese