Morioka (Iwate Prefecture) isn’t exactly famous for its sight-seeing spots, but every time I tell a Tokyoite that I live in Morioka their second phrase (after “it’s cold there!”) is either “wanko soba“, “reimen” or “jajamen“. This is because these are the “Three Famous Noodles of Morioka“. And of the three, jajamen is the most popular.
Why is Jajamen the Most Popular ?
Wanko soba is a fun challenge to accomplish – but it’s not something that you can eat every night. While reimen is best served during the summer – so it’s not something that people crave all year round. However, jajamen can be enjoyed at any time. Jajamen is one of those noodles where the concept is so rare and delicious, that people will line up outside on a rainy day to sit in the most popular restaurant.
Do You Want Meat? Do You Want Noodles? Jajamen is the Perfect Dish!
Jajamen contains a thick noodle similar to udon but is served with meat miso, chopped cucumbers, green onions, a pickled veggie and grated ginger. Many people, like myself, like to add more toppings that are provided at the table to the dish, like grated garlic, hot chilli-sauce, and vinegar.
The concept of the dish was inspired from a Chinese noodle dish called Zhajiang-mein, which contains a soybean meat paste. What makes jajamen a token of Morioka though, is when you reach the end of the meal, right before taking the last few bites of noodles… When you start to feel sad because you realize that the dish is coming to an end. When you start eating slower to savor your last bites. When you know you’re full but you still want more… Well, there is more. Simply follow the next steps…
How to Savour Every Last Bite of Your Jajamen
1. Ask the server for the “chi tan tan“.
2. You will be provided with an egg.
3. Crack the egg into your bowl where you still have a few noodles left.
4. Using your chopsticks, whisk the egg until it is fluffy and well-mixed.
4. Hand your bowl back to the server who will proceed to fill your bowl with a soup that will cook the egg as soon as they are combined.
5. Once the server returns your bowl, enjoy your second dish!
Where Is Jajamen Best Enjoyed?
Jajamen can be enjoyed at many different restaurants in Morioka, but the most famous restaurant is Pairon. As said before, folks line up outside of this restaurant on a rainy day just to get a bite from the dishes originator. The restaurant is cozy and small, but the chance to devour this creamy noodle dish outweighs the long queue and the tight quarters.
Morioka isn’t famous for much, but it is famous for its noodle dishes, and jajamen is one of the three noodles that every traveler should try once.
Morioka in Iwate, Tohoku Region, can be reached from Tokyo Station via direct Shinkansen. Duration approx. 130-180 mins. Cost approx. 14,000 yen.