I don’t know why, but Tsuyama in Northern Okayama Prefecture is the capital of horumon fried udon. It’s quite common for Japanese cities to build their reputation on a particular specialty, but it takes some gusto to build this fame cooking offals or as some might call it the “discarded bits”.
Horumon cooking dates back to WWII when poor Korean immigrants started cooking offals which most butcher would throw away. These days, horumon are very popular and can be found in every yakiniku restaurant in the country. This might come to a surprise if you believe that Japan is the land of sushi and tofu!
Tsuyama is a nice castle town about an hour North of Okayama city. It’s certainly not the most exciting place in Japan, the horumon udon is well worth the drive. The formula is simple in Japan, if you cook good food, they will come! In this case, people are flocking to Tsuyama on most weekend to enjoy some cheap and tasty food.
Kuishinbo restaurant specializes in horumon udon and okonomiyaki. The two cooks behind the massive hot plate were extremely busy preparing offals and okonomiyaki. I had the chance to sit right in front of them at the counter and I enjoyed watching them cook.
The restaurant is pretty small, so you can expect to wait, but it’s worth it. The menu has a selection of fried noodles and okonomiyaki.
We started our meal with some oden which is self-service.
We ordered horumon udon and suji okonomiyaki. Suji is the meat around the tendon.
The horumon udon is made in big batches since pretty much everybody orders it. The horumon are varied bits and I still have some trouble identifying some of them.
I could spot some stomach lining and the regular fatty horumon. The udons are fried with plenty of cabbage and bean sprout.
A couple drops of yuzu gave the dish a great citrus flavor. Very surprising taste combination.
The horumon udon was delicious, the offals tasted really good and this is a great hearty version of fried udon.
Our second dish was the suji okonomiyaki. The tendon meat and sinew were perfectly cooked and tender.
This uncommon item gave the okonomiyaki a very meaty taste and it’s a great twist for one of my favorite Japanese food.
Don’t go to Kuishinbo if you are on a diet, the food is rich, intense and pretty much the perfect hangover food.
I have a feeling that Andrew Zimmerman would have some kind of food epiphany if he tried horumon udon. Horumon is an acquired taste, I still remember the weird sensation of eating it for the first time. I guess it’s a bit like natto since some Japanese can’t eat it and some are crazy about it.
If you go to Tsuyama, you can try it for yourself. Don’t hesitate to comment on your horumon experiences.