In Japan, during summer time, there is a fun and cool dish called Nagashi Somen (流し素麺) or "flowing somen". Do you know somen? They are Japanese noodles made of wheat flour. The characteristic of these noodles is that their diameter is less than 1.3 mm. The noodles are usually served cold with a light flavored dipping sauce.
In summer, there is another way to eat these somen noodles. They are put in water flowing along a long bamboo gutter. What you should do then? You should show off your chopsticks’ skills to catch those flowing noodles! After you catch them, dip them in cool broth, and eat them. This is such a fun and cool way to eat somen in Japan! This Nagashi Somen is a summer tradition in Japan, and it's often seen at festivals or in restaurants.
Make Your Own Nagashi Somen
Photo: NAVFAC on Flickr
You can make your own Nagashi Somen in your own backyard. First of all, what you need is a bamboo with a diameter of 5 to 6 inches. Cut it vertically, wash it, and it should be okay to be used for making your own Nagashi Somen.
For the noodles, please be careful not to use cheap somen, because some cheap varieties get sticky when they are cooked or flowed by water. Japanese people usually use the Ibono Ito brand of somen.
For the dipping sauce, you can make it from mixing soy sauce, fish boiled soup, and sweetened sake (known as mirin in Japanese).
IKU YO!!! (Here we go!)
Photo: Tranpan23 on Flickr
When all the preparations are ready, the server will put some somen noodles on the top of the bamboo gutter with running water. Before the server put the noodles, he/ she will say “Iku yo!!!” which in fact means “The Somen is about to come to you guys, are your chopsticks ready?” Isn’t it such an interesting and funny way to eat those somen noodles? This way of eating somen is really popular not only among children, but also among teenagers and adults. Japanese people usually do this Nagashi Somen during the golden week in Japan. They usually do it in a park, or a garden with their family and friends.
Nagashi Somen Restaurant
If you are too lazy to look for a bamboo, cut it, and prepare everything to make your own Nagashi Somen, you can go to a Nagashi Somen restaurant. I know one place in Kyoto where you can have Nagashi Somen on top of a river while enjoying a waterfall view. The name of that restaurant is Hirobun (ひろ文) and it's located in the Kibune (貴船) area of Kyoto. It is about 40 minutes north of Kyoto Station by car, all the way up in the mountains.
Restaurant website (in Japanese): http://hirobun.co.jp/index.html
For me, this kind of special things makes the Japanese culture very interesting. I have gone to Kyoto before, and I have visited this Nagashi Somen restaurant, and I really recommend you to go there too. Go experience this cool and fun Japanese food!