It looks like a real village but it's actually a movie set/village!
From the outside, this building in the Twenty-Four Eyes
Movie Village appears to be a family dwelling, complete
with washing hanging out to dry under a bright blue sky
Actually, though, it houses a restaurant where
I had this generous-sized lunch set :b
somen -- which is white in color and made from wheat flour like udon but considerably thinner and thus more delicate in texture -- appears to be less well known outside the Land of the Rising Sun.
Among the best tasting dishes I've ever had in Japan was a cold somen dish at an izakaya without an English name or menu where I had dinner one evening last year in Okayama. So when I read that Shodoshima is home to traditionally hand-rolled somen, I made sure to keep a look out for it when I visited that island in the Seto Inland Sea.
If truth be told, I don't often see somen on the menu in restaurants in Japan and have never seen a somen-ya (even while having seen plenty of soba restaurants, ramen-ya and udon shops). So when I saw that a lunch set on offer at one of the two restaurants within the Nijushi-no-Hitomi Eigamura (Twenty-Four Eyes Movie Village) consisted of cold somen and an accompanying bowl of rice topped with dried sardines, I immediately knew what I'd be having for lunch that day!
When I was growing up in Malaysia (a country where it's super hot and humid all year round), there was many a time when I found myself sweating heavily while eating a steaming hot bowl of noodles and wondering why I couldn't have a cold noodle dish instead. So imagine my joy upon discovering the existence of cold noodle dishes in Japanese cuisine -- and for the record, zaru soba was an early favorite Japanese dish of mine that I do indeed particularly like to eat on hot summer days!
In recent years, I've come across and sampled a number of other cold noodle dishes, including Korean naeng myun and Japan's hiyashi chuka. But while I like them quite a bit, I think my new cold favorite is actually somen -- be it soaked in tangy ponzu sauce (the way I had it in that Okayama izakaya) or dipped in the kind of soy-based sauce that I more usually dip soba into (the way that I ate it in Shodoshima).
In his Sushi and Beyond: What the Japanese Know about Cooking, author Michael Booth wrote about an unusual way to eat somen that I still can't quite believe is real. Nagashi somen (or somen nagashi) involves somen being put into water flowing along the inside of a bamboo pipe (the word gutter has also been used but that makes it sound really unpalatable!) and needing to be "caught" by diners! I wouldn't mind trying nagashi somen some time -- but to be honest, it sounds too gimmicky, so I'm happy to "settle" for eating somen in more conventional ways whenever I can! :b
I have not heard of Somen before and I enjoy Japanese cuisine. Your post is making me hungry :)
Hi Sue --
I hope that some day soon, you'll get to try somen -- and like it as much as I have done! :b
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