I would have totally bypass this city in our tour of North-eastern Japan if not for the noodles.
You see, Morioka city is famous for its noodles... and unlike many other parts of Japan (like Kyushu and Hokkaido), it is not ramen.
Morioka is famous for 3 types of noodles - soba, reimen and jajagmen.
Morioka's most famous soba is called wanko soba. Wanko soba is simply soba in really small servings. The soba is served with condiments such as sashimi, mushrooms and pickles. “Wanko” is the word for “bowl” in the local dialect, and refers to the tiny bowls in which the noodles are served. We gave wanko soba a miss and opted for the more traditional and normal way of eating soba instead..
Wanko soba - Picture source: www.japan-iwate.info
Zaru-soba (Cold soba) usually has a much better texture.
I prefer the cold version when the noodles are handmade.
Morioka reimen is a dish derived from Korean cold noodles. The most unique characteristic of Morioka Reimen is the rubbery texture of the noodles, which are served in a cold soup with beef, kimchi, cucumber, boiled egg, sesame seeds and a piece of fruit such as pear, or watermelon.
I always liked cold noodles and I have to say that Morioka reimen has one of the best texture. It is springy and chewy and yet not tough at all.. and it goes so well with the cold soup, kimchi and sesame seeds.
I bought a bag of cold noodles back so I can have it at home.. and even my homemade version turned out really good.
Morioka Reimen from one of the most famous stores - BinBinSha
Morioka jajamen has its origin in China. From the look and taste of it, I'm pretty sure it is a cousin version of Cha-jiang-men (炸酱面), which is thick noodles mixed with meat sauce and some vegetables.
Jajamen is hot udon noodles with minced cucumber, leek and instead of meat sauce, it comes with a special miso paste. Like Cha-jiang-men, you mix it up as you eat, adding vinegar, chilli oil and garlic paste to taste.
Just when you are about 90% done with your noodles, you can crack a raw egg (usually provided on the table of the restaurant), mix it up and then give the bowl back to the chef who would add some seasoning and hot soup. They call it Chiitan (Which sounds very much like 鸡蛋汤, or Egg Soup, in Mandarin.. )
From Jajamen to Chiitan
Bai-ron, a very small but famous restaurant in Morioka for Jajamen
I actually liked Jajamen more than the Chinese version of Cha-jiang-men because I do not like meat.. and find the meat sauce usually a little too oily and meaty. So miso paste is a nice idea. Plus the whole egg soup thing makes eating this dish on a cold day really good..
P/S: Hmph... somehow, the title of today's post is very... erm... Lord of The Rings.. I wonder if anyone else thinks so too..