Translated by Hilary Keyes
Saitama's Unusual B-rank Cuisine: Kōnosu Kawahaba Udon Noodles
Written by Keisuke Yamada
Let's take a closer look at the unusual udon noodles found in Kōnosu city, Saitama: "kawahaba udon". 8 cm wide, these noodles are modeled after the river running through this city - Arakawa River, the widest in Japan.
Of all the B-kyū cuisine found across Japan, there are hundreds, perhaps even thousands of dishes that are still waiting to be discovered. When speaking of B-kyū cuisine, the most well-known dishes are without a doubt Atsugi city in Kanagawa prefecture's shirokoro horumon (beef offal), Kofu city in Yamanashi's Kofu torimotsuni (chicken offal stew), and Fujinomiya city in Shizuoka's Fujinomiya yakisoba to name a few.
But have you heard of the interesting B-kyū cuisine found in Kōnosu city, Saitama prefecture? Today we'd like to introduce to you a truly unique taste and sight: Kōnosu kawahaba udon noodles.
What is Kōnosu Kawahaba Udon?
Kōnosu kawahaba udon is a local cuisine that was inspired by the Arakawa river that flows between the two cities of Kōnosu and Yoshimimachi in Saitama prefecture. The Arakawa river is dozens of meters wide, however the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism defines the kawahaba or width of a river as being the distance between the flood plain and banks of a river.
In other words, rather than the width of the water flowing past, a river's width is its distance from bank to bank; this measurement means that the Arakawa river that flows by Kōnosu city is the largest in Japan at 2537 meters wide. At present, a sign stands on the Onaribashi bridge over the Arakawa river stating that it is the widest river in all of Japan.
In honor of being named the widest river in Japan, in August of 2009, Kōnosu kawahaba udon, flat udon noodles that are roughly 8 cm wide, made their debut. Now, all throughout Kōnosu city you can find restaurants and shops offering their own take on kawahaba udon. And, at the same time as the number of shops selling kawahaba udon grew, so too were a number of other cuisines developed.
Popular Kawahaba Udon Shop: Curaichi
Curaichi (久良一) is a shop selling both udon and soba noodles. From the menu signboard, you can select from 3 different types of kawahaba udon of which the most popular is the very-Japanese tasting "Kawahaba miso-nikomi udon" (990 yen with tax) or kawahaba udon which has been cooked in a miso broth.
With the famous menus picked up by both TV shows and magazines, the broth of this dish is made from hamaguri clams, giving it a subtle yet delicious accent.
For the summer, our recommendation is the cold and refreshing "reisei kawahaba udon" (690 yen with tax). The size of the noodles sold at each shop may differ from the average of 8 cm, however those at Curaichi are on the larger side.
In the instant you pick up the udon with the chopsticks, you can instantly feel just how heavy they are. You might find it a bit hard to hold at first, so don't feel self-conscious about letting the noodle slide back into the broth.
These noodles are that heavy that both forks and chopsticks are provided with each meal. And for the cold udon, you get a knife and fork, allowing you to cut the noodles into the perfect size for you.
The springy texture of the noodles, combined with the intricate flavors of the soup is simply delicious; a dish you will want to enjoy over and over again.
Curaichi's Attention to Detail
Of the many shops selling kawahaba udon in Kōnosu city, Curaichi is the only one to make their noodles exclusively from wheat grown in the Kōnosu area, which by itself is rather rare. The defining trait of the kawahaba udon served at Curaichi is this attention to detail; this wheat gives their udon its distinctive springy texture which then easily mixes with the soup.
The noodles are freshly prepared at Curaichi every day, making Curaichi the shop to visit if you want to try the best of Saitama's newly discovered B-kyū cuisine, Kōnosu kawahaba udon.
Address: Saitama,Kōnosu, Ningyō 4-1-36
Hours: Lunch 11:30-15:00 (Last order 14:30), Dinner 17:30-21:00 (Last order 20:30)
Credit Cards: -
Other Languages: None
Nearest Station: Kōnosu Station (鴻巣駅), JR Takasaki Line
Access: 20 minute walk from east exit of Kōnosu Station
Price Range: Up to 1000 yen
Phone Number: 048-542-5542