Japan has so many culinary delights that sometimes it's hard to know where to begin. “What would you like to order?” “Umm, everything…?”
When traveling around this foodie heaven, my advice is to find out the local specialty of the area you're visiting. Japan has many regional specific dishes that are difficult to find or not as good elsewhere. So seize the opportunity to try these special varieties when you have the chance and save staples for those times in between.
The town of Fujiyoshida at the base of Mt. Fuji is well-known for its unique udon noodles. Characteristically tough and chewy, they have a texture that is unlike any other udon dish you have tried.
You can pick up a “Yoshida Udon Map” (吉田のうどんマップ) from the City Hall or Information Centers that detail the more than 60 shops around town that sell the dish. They may not be easy to recognize as they are typically set inside regular homes, so look out for the traditional noren (cloth dividers with vertical slits) hanging over the entrance and the flag with these characters 吉田のうどん. Each shop makes/serves the dishes differently (some sell many varieties while others specialize in just one) so it is possible to have a completely different culinary experience from one restaurant to the next. You'll have much more choice at lunch time as most places close around 2 or 3pm, however, there are a few options for dinner dining.
The restaurant we visited was a very local place away from the main streets as it was one of the few places open at that time of day. The menu was entirely in Japanese. The case may be different for restaurants in the center of town but here is a useful guide courtesy of the Fujiyoshida City Hall that will help you out when ordering. The dishes typically come in two sizes – futsu (regular) or dai (large).
These are some of the basic dishes:
Kake かけ Basic noodles and soup
Tsuke つけ Hot soup with noodles on the side
Niku 肉 Meat (horse, beef or pork)
Tempura 天ぷら Batter-fried vegetables and seafood
Nikuten 肉天 Meat and tempura toppings
Kitsune きつね Fried sweet tofu
Yumori 湯盛り Boiling water and bonito flakes
Hiyashi 冷やし Cold noodle dish – summer favorite!
Here's what we ordered!