By Rey Waters
Houtou is a famous local specialty in Yamanashi Prefecture. It is a type of dish that is made with flat udon noodles and vegetables, and a miso-based soup that is very rich and thick like a stew. Many Japanese people rarely consider it to be an udon dish although houtou noodles are often mistaken as a variant of udon due to their similarity. However, their differences lie within the different preparation styles. Instead of making houtou in the style of udon noodles, which have a smoother texture, houtou noodles are made more like dumplings.
Houtou Fudou is a restaurant famous for its Houtou noodle. As we stepped into the restaurant, we found big Houtou pots on almost every table. Houtou Fudou has a very simple menu which consists of only three main dishes (Houtou noodle, soba noodle, and minced toro with rice), along witha few other side dishes which include tsukemono (Japanese preserved vegetables), inari sushi (sushi rice stuffed in sweetened tofu pouches), basashi (horse sashimi), and rice.
Houtou Fudou also has a very clean interior design with a touch of conventional Japanese style. The restaurant is divided into two sections: on the right-hand side of the restaurant, one can find traditional tatami-style booths with a Japanese Kanji "Gaku (嶽)" printed on the wall in a calligraphy style font. The left-hand side of the restaurant, on the other hand, is decorated with several wooden tables and chairs. Additionally, Houtou Fudou has a souvenir section, snacks such as cherry-flavored rice cakes and peach- and grape-flavored biscuits, all of which are very popular among tourists and even Japanese.
The Houtou recipe is distinctively local as it can only be found in the Fuji region. I find their Houtou noodles amazingly good and generous in serving size. One serving of Houtou costs ¥1050, inari sushi is ¥420, and basashi is ¥1050. However, it is not necessarily suitable for vegetarians. Although their houtou has no meat or fish in it, the broth is made with dried sardine.
Public transportation and Location
From Shinjuku, one can take the Chuo Line. At Otsuki Station (大月) transfer to the Fuji Kyuko Line. Get off at Kawaguchiko Station (Final stop)
By Highway Bus
Exiting from the West side of Shinjuku station, one can find the highway bus terminal. Board the highway bus to Kawaguchiko and Yamanaka-ko. Get off at Kawaguchiko Station.
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