The twisting and winding streets of Japan are filled with culinary wonders. Located walking distance from Kintetsu Nara Station is the famous udon restaurant, Mentouan. There, a new menu item called “kinchaku udon (or sticky udon)” is going viral for its innovative approach to a classic noodle dish. Unlike traditional udon, Mentouan’s kinchaku udon comes wrapped in a deep-fried tofu pouch that’s secured with a green scallion bowtie. The pouch of goodness floats in a bowl of savory dashi broth, making it a mouthwatering sight to behold.
Udon is a thick Japanese noodle variety that’s made from wheat flour. It’s widely available throughout Japan and comes in many varieties. One of the most popular is kitsune udon, which is made using dashi broth and topped with seasoned fried tofu, pink-swirl narutomaki fish cake, and scallions. The word kitsune means “fox” in Japanese and the animal itself is considered to possess magical abilities.
In Japanese folklore, deep-fried tofu pouches — known as aburaage — are the favorite food of foxes. That’s how udon topped with fried tofu earned the name kitsune udon. At least that’s one theory; another is that the name comes from the color of deep-fried tofu, which is similar to a fox. Japanese cookbooks commonly include the instruction “cook till fox color,” which means, “until golden brown.”
Mentouan’s kinchaku udon literally pulls from Japanese folklore to present a truly authentic kitsune udon. In the viral video, customers use chopsticks to uncover the noodle treasure that awaits inside the tofu pouches. The pouch adds a bit of fun to the overall experience, along with a tasty helping of deep-fried tofu. You can experience kinchaku udon for just 1,100 yen — or around $7.50.
There’s usually a long line during the weekdays so getting to Mentouan ahead of time is highly recommended. Mentouan's location can be found here: 30-1 Hashimoto-cho, Nara-shi, Nara.