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(Cuisine from 47 prefectures in Tokyo) Hidden delicacies in Hiroshima: Hiroshima Tsukemen (dipping noodles), the soul of local food!

(Cuisine from 47 prefectures in Tokyo) Hidden delicacies in Hiroshima: Hiroshima Tsukemen (dipping noodles), the soul of local food!

October 14, 2019
Speaking of Hiroshima, foodies must know that it is the No. 1 producer of large and plump oysters; Hiroshimayaki with abundant crispy vegetables and fried noodles can only be matched by Osakayaki; the Onomichi Ramen at Shuukaen, which was unexpectedly closed permanently, is something you can never forget.

However, a hidden delicacy which is loved by local people but little known to foreigners called "Hiroshima Tsukemen" is only drawing attention these recent years, and has become a must-eat dish for foreign tourists.

Today I am taking you to Shibuya, Tokyo, instead of going to Hiroshima, to taste the authentic Hiroshima Tsukemen at the well-known restaurant "Bakudanya".

What is Hiroshima Tsukemen?

What is Hiroshima Tsukemen?
It is said that a certain Mr. Wakayama was inspired in China in 1954 before returning to Hiroshima and opening a Chinese food restaurant "Shinkaen". The cold noodles it served were very popular. These elastic chilled noodles which can be eaten with sour and spicy dipping sauces like Ichimi, sesame oil and vinegar are considered the predecessor of Hiroshima Tsukemen. It was until the 1980s that restaurants specialized in Hiroshima Tsukemen began to spring up.

With the promotion via TV and the Internet these years, Hiroshima Tsukemen is now known to more and more people. Today when you walk in Hiroshima downtown, you can see Norens with "広島つけ麺" (Hiroshima Tsukemen) written on them everywhere.
 

Hiroshima Tsukemen's characteristics

Hiroshima Tsukemen's characteristics
Hiroshima Tsukemen is special for its dipping sauce made by adding pepper, pepper oil, vinegar and a lot of sesames to soy-sauce-based stock.
After chilling the home-made noodles that are a little thicker than normal ramen, crispy cabbages, cucumbers and Welsh onions are added on the top like a hill and served with Char siu pork and boiled eggs cut into two halves.
Sour and spicy fresh stock dipping sauce together with abundant vegetables are even more refreshing in baking summer in Hiroshima. What's more, unlike strong-flavored ramen popular in Hiroshima, one can take in a lot of fibers and much less calories from the Tsukemen than normally very fat and salted ramen. It makes Tsukemen very popular among women.

The red sauce also reminds people of one of Hiroshima's spiritual supports — the Hiroshima Toyo Carp, which also explains the lasting popularity of Hiroshima Tsukemen. It is said that after each match, the Tsukemen restaurants at downtown Hiroshima are crowded with baseball fans to enjoy their fiesta.
 

Bakudanya, the shop that ignites the popularity of Hiroshima Tsukemen

Bakudanya, the shop that ignites the popularity of Hiroshima Tsukemen
Bakudanya, the shop that ignites the popularity of Hiroshima Tsukemen
Bakudanya (literally the "bomb house") is considered to have made Hiroshima Tsukemen a trend and promoted it to all of Japan and the whole world. It owns 10 restaurants in Horishima alone, and is the favorite Tsukemen brand of local people.
The Shibuya Bakudanya that I am going to visit is the only Bakudanya in Tokyo. You will risk nothing to come here if you want to eat authentic Hiroshima Tsukemen. Even though it is a restaurant chain, the quality and services are more than standardized. They use dried fish to add flavor to the stock and secret chili sauce to make their unique Japanese dipping sauce. You can select the spicy degree for your chili sauce, which Hiroshima people cannot live without, from no spice to infinite spice. It is recommended for those who try for the first time to select between 10 and 20.

If you challenge the 100th spice degree with success, you can have your name recorded in history. The restaurant owner hangs a board with winners so you can see the "achievements" of guests who succeeded the challenge. On the wall also hangs the jersey signed by the former No.18 ace pitcher of the Hiroshima Toyo Carp, Kenta Maeda. On the other side of the wall is a television that plays every match of the Hiroshima Toyo Carp. An izakaya turns into a sports pub, where people can cheer for their team while enjoying Hiroshima food.
 

How to order a meal at Bakudanya

How to order a meal at Bakudanya
First, you need to select the size from big, medium and small. The medium size is generally suitable for ordinary-appetited male, whereas the small size is suitable for women or those with a smaller appetite.
Then you can pick your dipping sauce from the two flavors of "say sauce" and "sesame". It is highly recommended for first comers to taste their most popular soy sauce dipping sauce.
In the end you can pick the spicy degree. It is suggested that those who try for the first time choose between 10 and 20. I noticed that they offer appropriate chili sauces according to your selection so you can add it to your dipping sauce the way you like it!
 

A fresh experience with cold noodles with cold dipping sauce

A fresh experience with cold noodles with cold dipping sauce
A fresh experience with cold noodles with cold dipping sauce
After ordering my meal, a waitor first gave me an all red dipping sauce full of sesames. On the right was the chili sauce for the final touch. One little spoon of it is 1 degree of spice. On the right of it was a whole bowl of sesames for you to add when you would have finished the sesames in the sauce.
They very thoughtfully provided a paper apron. Remember to put it on when enjoying the noodles to avoid the tragedy of dropping the sauce to your clothes! And this is the standard preparation before having Hiroshima Tsukemen. You can wait for the "superstar" after putting on the apron.

A short while later, the Hiroshima Tsukemen with ingredients piled up like a hill was served. Let me taste the original flavor before adding the chili sauce! I first had some vegetables with some dipping sauce as a starter. The sauce is not as hot as it looks while its slightly sour and properly salted Japanese flavor in addition to the fragrance of sesames stimulate the appetite.
Then we will come to the point by adding some chili sauce to the noodles. The noodles under the ingredients are thicker than normal ramen. While being elastic, they are neither too floury nor too hard even though they are cold. I took the initiative to soak some noodles in the sauce and ate it with some Welsh onions and cabbages. The slightly sour and hot sauce stimulated my taste buds as the starch formed a perfect balance with the hot sauce. As the sweet taste was produced when chewing the vegetables, this magnificent combination made me have some more bites. Cold noodles and cold dipping sauces are unlike normal Japanese dipping sauces because you don't need to worry the change of flavor when the sauce turns cold, so it is perfect for summer.
In the end, I added a total of 5 spoons of chili sauce, which is between mild hot and medium hot. It was a spicy degree that does not make me sweat nor destroys the flavor. You can add your chili sauce according to your preferences.
 

Hiroshimayaki and the unique Japanese fried chicken are also must-eats.

Hiroshimayaki and the unique Japanese fried chicken are also must-eats.
Hiroshimayaki and the unique Japanese fried chicken are also must-eats.
Apart from Hiroshima Tsukemen, Bakudanya's Hiroshimayaki and Japanese fried chicken are also too popular to miss.
In contrary to Osakayaki's soft touch, Hiroshimayaki has a lot of cabbages and soys, which make the touch more rich. Together with salted and sweet sauce, you can never have too much of it!
The fried chicken which is crispy outside and juicy inside, properly cooked and bigger than normal, can surely satisfy your appetite. Together with a cup of beer, Hiroshima food is the best!
 

Tips on visiting Bakudanya

Tips on visiting Bakudanya
1. It closes after 15:00, so don't arrive too late for nothing;
2. Credit cards are not accepted for lunch, nor do they accept individual payment!
3. There is a smoking area and a non-smoking area. Those who don't smoke can ask to be seated in the non-smoking area;
4. There were multiple foreign members of staff the day of my visit, so you don't have to speak Japanese.
 

Access to Bakudanya

Access to Bakudanya
1. Go in the direction of Dogenzaka after taking the "道玄坂口" (Dogenzaka Entrance/Exit) at the Shibuya Station;
2. Cross the road after passing the bus station on your right to the bank on the other side;
3. Walk up the ramp for about 5 minutes;
4. Turn right when you see a big crossroads and take the overbridge to the other side;
5. Go straight ahead after the overbridge and walk until you see 7-11; keep going and you will see the destination.
 

What do you think about this unique Hiroshima Tsukemen that I introduced today?

Next time you come and visit Japan, if you are done with Japanese tsukemen, or you don't like tsukemen which is hot in the beginning but then loses the flavor when it gets cold, then I highly recommend you to taste this Hiroshima Tsukemen combining cold noodles with cold dipping sauces. The slightly sour and hot sauces stimulate your appetite and the dish is very low on calories, which is suitable for adults and children alike!

ばくだんや(BAKUDANNYA)

ばくだんや
Address 東京都渋谷区渋谷2-9-10 キングビル 1F
Business Hoursweekdays: 11:30-15:30, 18:00-23:30, weekends & public holidays: 11:30-15:30, 17:00-22:30
Shop HolidaysIrregular holidays
Web Site URLhttp://www.bakudanya.net/