Houtou Fudou in Kawaguchiko

By Yuri Yuhara

When we talk about Japanese cuisine, most people soon imagine beautiful and colorful dishes of sushi and sashimi, soup and noodles like udon, or even comfort foods beloved in all over the country such as curry.

However, each region has its traditional dishes, such as the well-known Hiroshima okonamiyaki, takoyaki from Osaka, or lamen from Hakata , and traveling the entire country to taste regional delicacies is one of the Japanese favorite activities.

Hōtō (also spelled as houtou) is the typical Yamanashi dish. It is a comfort food that has as main ingredient a type of flat pasta made of wheat, which is then cooked in a broth made of miso (soy paste) and many vegetables, giving a unique flavor to the pasta. Hōtō can be found in any places in the Prefecture, prepared in residences and in specialized restaurants.

One of the theories about the origin of hōtō claims that this dish was created in Yamanashi hundreds of years ago, during a time when rice was scarce and the wheat cultivation began to flourish in the region, leading to consumption of pasta allied with vegetables. Another version tells that it was created by Lord Takeda Shingen, who commanded the region during the years known as Sengoku Jidai.

One of the most traditional hōtō restaurants is Houtou Fudou, which has several stores mainly in the Kawaguchiko region. The Higashi Koiji one,is one of the most famous due to its unique design, that aims to represent the snow that covers Mount Fuji.

However, this time we visited the headquarters restaurant, located in a traditional building full of history, where after tasting this delicious dish, we had the opportunity to visit the kitchen and learn some of its secrets.

The hōtō of Houtou Fudou has several types of vegetables that vary according to the season, including potato, mushrooms and the indispensable kabocha, Japanese pumpkin. These ingredients make the dish more flavorful and the pasta helps to thicken the broth, creating a creamy texture.

Served in a boiling caldron, the portions are big and satisfy even the hungriest customer. A common option is to also order inarizushi and basashi.

After the meal, we visited the kitchen to learn how to prepare hōtō and found ourselves in a huge space with dozens of calderones in the fire.

The secret of Houtou Fudou's is, in addition to the handmade pasta, the broth, which carries several types of dried fish.

Hōtō costs 1080 yen, with taxes included, and the addresses can be checked on the website http://www.houtou-fudou.jp/english.Hōtōm

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