流しそうめん, nagashi somen, is something you absolutely must experience if you come to Japan during the summer. Nagashi means “flowing” and “somen” is a kind of thin, white wheat noodle, very light and mild tasting. Typical of Japan, they’ve combined the great outdoors with a tasty treat for refreshing summer cuisine.
Basically, bamboo or metal slides are set up and cold fresh water runs through the half-pipes. The person at the top of the slide yells “Iku yo!” “Here it comes!” and then throws bunches of delicious cold noodles into the slide. They float down and you grab mouthfuls from the slide in front of you. Since somen itself is pretty flavorless, you dunk it into めんつゆ, mentsuyu, noodle broth, in which you’ve mixed chopped green onion and grated ginger, wasabi and myoga (which are these wild looking little plant bulbs that taste like a cross between ginger, garlic and onion). Usually you pay about 500Y for 15 minutes of all-you-can-grab madness! It leads to noodle stealing and fierce competition even between close friends XD
We traveled to the middle of the mountains for our nagashi somen. You trek up a long mountain road to get there – it’s about half an hour from the nearest town. You get out of your car and trek into the woods, crossing over a strong little brook and find yourself in front of a 3-storey waterfall! The restaurant itself is set up on platforms that straddle the stream. It’s the ultimate natural eating experience!
In this video the kids are yelling “tabetai! tabetai!!” “I wanna eat it! I wanna eat it!” In America, this would be kids going “Ewwww! Fish! Gross!” Ahh cultural differences ^^;;;;
One of the best things about this little restaurant is it’s side dishes – especially iwana, a kind of sweet water fish that lives in the local waterways. They’re caught locally and kept fresh in a mesh metal cage set into the stream. The little old men who run the charcoal grills go downstream occassionally to net up buckets of fresh wiggling iwana, stick them on skewers whole, roll them in salt and then grill ‘em. They’re my favorite fish of all time!
~MS the Stuffed <3