The second biggest event in the history of wheat in 8,000 years”… The much talked about “glutinous wheat” ramen, the ultimate in sticky texture. | FRIDAY DIGITAL

The second biggest event in the history of wheat in 8,000 years”… The much talked about “glutinous wheat” ramen, the ultimate in sticky texture.

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What is glutinous wheat, a wheat variety born in Japan?

The texture of noodles made with this wheat is like the sucking of a fresh octopus! The texture of the noodles is as if they become one with the mucous membranes in your mouth. ……The Japanese love the glutinous texture of noodles, and “Mochi Wheat” is the ultimate in that!

The owner of “Udon Snack Matsutomugi” in Komazawa, Tokyo, Mr. Kon Inoue spoke enthusiastically. He used to work as a writer, but his love for udon grew so strong that he opened his own restaurant, where he makes udon with a different variety of Japanese wheat every week.

The “glutinous wheat” that even the most famous “udon pervert” would be impressed with. Mr. Inoue began using it in 2004, and in recent years, more and more restaurants are adopting it. The ramen industry stands out in particular. At the 2010 TRY (Tokyo Ramen of the Year), the judges’ roundtable discussion on the general comments made by the judges included the following comments: “Noodles made with glutinous wheat are proliferating, not only at new restaurants, but also at famous restaurants. Not only new stores, but also famous stores are using glutinous wheat.

Before we discuss the secret history of the development of glutinous wheat and its epoch-making characteristics, we will hit three restaurants in a row that have adopted glutinous wheat! Let’s select a must-try from oil soba, tsukemen, and ramen.

Udon Techo (50+α famous udon restaurants in Japan that you must eat at least once before you die! (50+α of the best restaurants in Japan)” and has been active as a writer in the field of udon. His love for udon and wheat led him to open “Matsutomugi. He is active in a wide range of udon production and events.
Mr. Inoue has been using glutinous wheat since 2004. This is udon noodle made only with glutinous wheat. Udon noodles are usually blended with other varieties, but the texture of noodles made with 100% glutinous wheat is super sensual!

Take a bite of the extra-thick noodles and your mouth will be filled with “mochi mochi” (glutinous rice cake) / MEN Cry (Hamamatsucho)

First up is MEN Kurai, which won first place in the soup-less category of the TRY2021 Newcomer Awards. It opened in 2021 as the next brand of the famous “Chinese Soba WA-UZU TOKYO. The noodles are made of 100% domestic wheat, blended with “Mochihime,” a glutinous wheat brand. The main menu of “Ramen” and “Tsukemen” (ramen and dipping noodles) in soy sauce and salt flavors are also strong, but we dare you to choose “Aburosoba” here.

The texture of the Aburasoba is also a new experience for customers! When the restaurant was first established, the noodles were so ultra-thick that they could be mistaken for udon noodles, but they have been tuned to make them easier to slurp. Now they are semi-thick, but when you bring them to your lips with your chopsticks, you will be filled with the four words “sticky” and a moment of bliss awaits you. Strangely enough, while the viscous texture comes to the fore, chewing and swallowing are nonstressful. The glutinous noodles, which are more airy and sticky, fall into your stomach without a hitch.

The high quality back fat and smoked pork oil from the process of making chashu pork add to the richness of the dish. The rich soy sauce sauce is thickly mixed with the noodles. Although the noodles weigh 220 grams, you will surely finish them in no time at all. We highly recommend this dish as one of the leaders in the field of sticky wheat noodle oil soba.

Oil Soba” (900 yen). The thinly sliced pork chashu matches well with the noodles. You can also add some of the broth as a dipping sauce at the end of the dish and enjoy it in its fullness.
If you stop by and take a closer look at the noodles, you can see their flattened and plump skin. This is “erotic and delicious” noodle. The randomness of the hand-cut noodles adds to the texture.
MEN CLAI / 1F Yamatani Building, 1-3-4 Shiba, Minato-ku, Tokyo Hours: 11:00 – 14:30, 18:00 – 20:30 Closed: Sunday Access: 5-minute walk from Hamamatsucho Station on the JR Yamanote Line and other lines.

Tsukemen spin-off from a famous noodle store pursues the critical point between thirst-quenching and glutinous / HONDA MENGYO Kanda (Kanda)

Located right in front of Kanda Station in the heart of the city, Honda Mengyo has its own noodle-making space and makes its noodles in the store. The super-hydrous, chewy noodles are carefully hand-rubbed and then boiled in a custom-built pot in one go! The noodles are then served with cold water. Once you have witnessed the flowing flow of the noodles in the open kitchen, the “homemade hand-rubbed tsukemen” that is promoted in the Tsukemen category of Mochi Wheat is ready to be served.

HONDA MENGYO Kanda” was the third branch of “MENDOKORO HONDA,” which is known as a regular in the TRY Famous Restaurant Section, and was launched in January 2011. It has been serving high-quality tsukemen (dipping noodles) that satisfy Kanda businesspersons, but within four months of its establishment, the noodles were completely changed. The original noodles were made with glutinous wheat, but in version 2, the noodles are slightly slimmer, giving the noodle a more “throat-clearing” feel, which is the specialty of tsukemen.

The “top” item on the menu is topped with fragrant roasted Oyama chicken, and together with the noodles, the ingredients are highly satisfying. Wheat noodles are known for their crispiness and smoothness, but glutinous wheat noodles have the softness of rice cakes. Honda’s tsukemen has an exquisite hybrid feel: glutinous yet smooth, and slides easily down the throat. Two types of soup are available: sansho (Japanese pepper) and ginger. Enjoy the tsukemen soup until the last drop and feel the lingering flavor of the glutinous wheat noodles.

Homemade hand-rubbed tsukemen (top) (1,400 yen). The dipping sauce is filled with boiled pork, bamboo shoots, and kujo onions. The noodle dish is topped with a flavored egg with a sweet Tsugaru egg, premium Japanese nori seaweed, and roasted Oyama chicken. It is a perfect set menu.
If you want to feel the texture of wheat, the tsukemen noodles are best served with cold water. The noodles are hand-rubbed and light-heavy with a sticky texture. The noodles are light, heavy, and glutinous, and feel great as they glide down your throat.
Hondamengyo Kanda / 3-7-8 Uchikanda, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo Hours: 11:00 – 22:00 Closed: None Access: 1 minute walk from Kanda Station on the JR Yamanote Line and others

The glutinous noodles in a thick broth field are a lively sight! Teuchi-Hasu (Ryogoku)

Founded in December 2010, this up-and-coming restaurant attracts a long line of customers with its meticulous work. As the restaurant’s name “Teuchi” implies, the owner, Hiroki Hayashi, provides handmade noodles, from the watering of the flour to the cutting of the noodles. The flour is a blend of “Waka” flour from Hokkaido and “Mochihime” glutinous wheat from Iwate Prefecture.

The soup to go with the handmade noodles is a combination of a soy sauce broth made from several kinds of dried sardines and Rishiri kelp, and “hansei gaeshi,” a blend of seven kinds of soy sauces. The broth has a gentle yet deep flavor.

It is also good to fully experience the texture of the noodles with oil soba. The texture of the tsukemen noodles is also an unforgettable dining experience. The glutinous wheat noodles take on a different appearance when combined with the artisanal broth. The mellow soy sauce ramen and the multilayered salt ramen allow you to fully appreciate the unique characteristics of glutinous wheat noodles.

Shoyu ramen” (880 yen). The classic appearance with a little bit of naruto on top is very appetizing. The fascinating noodle dangles under the large piece of char siu pork.
The first impact is soft, but when you bite into the noodle, it gives you just the right amount of chewiness. It is an endless noodle that begs to be slurped and chewed in a loop!
The water content (ratio of water to flour) is around 43%, and is fine-tuned according to the season and humidity, always aiming for the optimum “sticky” and “smooth” texture.
The noodle-making space inside the restaurant. The noodles are made by hand without using a noodle-making machine, and before boiling, they are carefully hand-rubbed to give them a wavy texture.

Located at 3-16-2 Chitose, Sumida-ku, Tokyo, Livri Easter Kikukawa 1F Business hours: 11:30 – 14:30 (LO), 18:00 – 20:00 (LO) *Open only for lunch on Sundays and holidays Closed: Monday and Friday Access: 8-minute walk from Ryogoku Station on JR Sobu Line and others, 6-minute walk from Morishita Station on Toei Shinjuku Line and Oedo Line

The secret history of the development of glutinous wheat, which was born in Japan…

We have covered the must-have glutinous wheat noodles, but what are the characteristics of glutinous wheat? And how was it born? Let’s ask Mr. Kon Inoue again.

The stickiness of noodles such as udon and ramen depends on the genes of the wheat: if the three Wx (waxy) genes A, B, and D are not working, it becomes glutinous wheat. It has been very difficult to get these three genes to stop working. Development has been done all over the world, but radiation, chemicals, and other methods have not led to success.”

There are “glutinous” varieties of rice, barley, corn, millet, and other grass crops, such as “glutinous rice” and “glutinous barley (glutinous barley). However, there was no “glutinous” wheat until recently.

Researchers at the Tohoku Agricultural Research Center of the National Agricultural Research Organization (NARO) struggled hard and succeeded in developing a “glutinous” variety in 1995. This effort was recognized worldwide, with Dr. Craig Morris of the U.S. Department of Agriculture calling it “the second greatest achievement in the 8,000-year history of wheat cultivation.

Incidentally, the “second greatest event” in the history of wheat cultivation is the development of wheat No. 10, which became the cornerstone of the “Green Revolution” that saved the world from a food crisis. It led to a significant increase in crop yields and the Nobel Peace Prize. The invention of glutinous wheat, which was said to be impossible, is said to be the next great epoch-making event after such a great invention.

About 30 years after its development, glutinous wheat has reached the forefront of noodle cuisine. The “Pure Handmade Noodles and Mirai” (Shimokitazawa), established in Shimokitazawa in 2006, was the spark that ignited the ramen restaurant industry, and famous restaurants such as “Feast Kuroki” (Asakusabashi) and “Solanoiro” (Kojimachi) also took notice of it. As the industry’s megatrend of hand-rolled and hand-tossed noodles attracts more and more attention, the number of stores adopting these noodles is slowly increasing. These noodles are being used in the production of aburasoba, tsukemen, and ramen noodles, delighting the mucous membranes in our mouths.

While the development of soup is reaching a critical point, the challenge of artisans to pursue the chewiness and texture of noodles and to improve the perfection of the bowl has not ceased. In this context, glutinous wheat noodles, which Mr. Inoue describes as “extreme mochi-mochi,” will be a powerful weapon. We look forward to further popularization and improvement of the noodles in the future!

The point of glutinous wheat is not only its texture. It also has features that benefit kitchen operations, such as shorter boiling times and reduced loss due to its resistance to a slight boil-over. I hope that this will not be consumed as a temporary trend, but that its characteristics will be properly communicated and that it will become more widespread.

  • Interview and text Masataka Sasaki

    Representative of Kids Factory. He has edited several ramen books, including "Hideyuki Ishigami Ramen Selection" (Futabasha), "The Industry's Highest Authority TRY Certified Ramen Grand Prize" (Kodansha), "Ramen Saikyou Unchiku Ishigami Hideyuki" (Shinyusha), and "Solanoiro Chihiro Miyazaki's Ramen Theory" (Shibata Shoten). He loves ramen, and his motto is "Be a pervert in your quest for ramen, but a gentleman in your behavior.

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