“HOTO”, the best local specialty food in Yamanashi Prefecture

What is ほうとう (HOTO / HOUTOU)?

 

“ほうとう (HOTO / HOUTOU)” is one of the local specialty foods in YAMANASHI Prefecture, and it is selected as one of “農山漁村の郷土料理百選 (Hundred best local dishes from rural areas)” by the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries in Japan. Although it is a local specialty only in Yamanashi Prefecture, it is well known throughout Japan.

 

HOTO is a noodle dish in MISO soup with a lot of kinds of vegetables and meats. Especially when it is cold in winter, it is very good to eat this to make your body warm.

 

The noodle of HOTO is basically made from wheat and it is very thick and flat. Some people (especially living outside of Yamanashi Prefecture) regard HOTO and UDON (also made from wheat) are the same thing, but people of Yamanashi Prefecture insist that they are totally different. Also some people say that HOTO is one of the hotpot cuisines, but people in Yamanashi Prefecture deny it. Apart from the discussion on what is exactly different from UDON or Hotpot, HOTO is something special for people in Yamanashi Prefecture which has been with them for so long time.

 

Although there are a lot of local specialty foods across Japan, honestly I personally love this HOTO the best. What is special about this HOTO is the richness of the soup. The miso soup of HOTO has a lot of vegetables and meats, such as pumpkin, radish, carrot, potato, onion, mushrooms, chicken, pork, and so on. Since this miso soup has a variety of ingredients, the soup becomes savory. Among these many ingredients, pumpkin is the main thing which each of every HOTO has it inside. While stewed well, pumpkin is well melt with the miso soup, and the saltiness of miso and sweetness of pumpkin matches perfectly. This gives the miso soup of HOTO its unique richness.

 

A famous SAMURAI “SHINGEN TAKEDA” also loved HOTO.

 

武田信玄 (Shingen TAKEDA, 1521-1573) is a very famous SAMURAI who governed KAI Province (Yamanashi Prefecture). He is well known as a pre-eminent 大名 (DAIMYO / Feudal Lord) who won a lot of battles. You might have heard of “風林火山 (FU RIN KA ZAN) written in the flags of his army which means “as fast as the wind, as quiet as the forest, as daring as fire, and as immovable as the mountain”.

 

According to one theory, the origin of HOTO was the 陣中食 (JIN CHU SHOKU / Combat Ration / Foods eaten at battlefield) of SHINGEN TAKEDA. As Yamanashi Prefecture is surrounded by mountains and there are less flat field to cultivate rice, thus, wheat and soy beans were the major things cultivated there. It is said that SHINGEN TAKEDA thought that HOTO was easier to cook, more portable, and has higher mobility at the battlefield rather than cook rice and dishes separately, thus he liked to eat HOTO at their battlefield. Also, it is very cold there in winter, and this might be another reason why they like to eat HOTO in the battlefield.

 

It is so exciting to eat HOTO with thinking about that famous SAMURAI was also eating the same thing.

 

Two recommended HOTO restaurants in Yamanashi Prefecture.

 

There are more than 100 HOTO restaurants across Yamanashi Prefecture. If you drive around, you can surely encounter some HOTO restaurants along the way. Among them, let me introduce 2 of my favorite HOTO restaurants.

 

ほうとう不動 (HOTO FUDO)

HOTO FUDO is a chain restaurants specialized in HOTO, and they have 4 outlets in Yamanashi Prefecture. The outlet I visited this time is located at 東恋路 (HIGASHI KOIJI).

 

 

Look at this building!! What an unique building this is!! This was designed by Mr. Takeshi Hosaka, a famous architect in Japan. It looks like a cloud and match with the clouds in the sky.

 

 

The interior is also amazing. It has 300 seats and you don’t need to worry about the vacancy.

 

 

This is the HOTO of HOTO FUDO. The noodle is home-made and very chewy. Miso soup includes local vegetables grown around Mt. Fuji, and it is really nice.

 

ほうとう不動 (HOTO FUDO) 東恋路店 (HIGASHI KOIJI Outlet)

  • Open everyday from 11:00 am to 8:00 pm
  • In the evening time, it is advised to check the closing time by phone
  • Tel: 0555-72-8511
  • Address & access: check detail at below map

 

 

かど久 (KADO KYU)

 

In comparison with the above HOTO FUDO as a modern chain restaurant, かど久 (KADO KYU) is more like a traditional restaurant which has more than 50 years history. It is located at 身延町 (MINOBU Town) in Yamanashi Prefecture.

 

 

 

KADO KYU is located right in front of the river, and you can view nice scenery while eating. This KADO KYU is basically a SOBA Noodle restaurant and there seem to be a lot of popular SOBA menu, but I would definitely recommend you to try its HOTO because it is absolutely fantastic.

 

Here it comes!!

 

 

What is special about HOTO of KADO KYU is its richness. Both noodle and miso are hand-made, and pumpkin and even some of noodle are perfectly melt in the thick miso soup. Honestly I have never tasted such rich and fantastic HOTO before. This is absolutely my best HOTO ever. Although the location is a bit difficult to go, it is worth visiting all the way.

 

Since everything is hand made here, it takes 30 minutes to be served after you order. Therefore, it is recommended to call them and order in advance by phone with telling them what time you reach there.

 

かど久 (KADO KYU)

  • Open everyday from 11:00 am to 4:30 pm
  • In the evening time, it is advised to check the closing time by phone
  • Tel: 0556-36-0143
  • Address & access: check detail at below map

 

 

Now, how are you feeling about this specialty food in Yamanashi Prefecture, HOTO? Not only these 2 restaurants I introduced above, there are a lot of HOTO restaurants across Yamanashi Prefecture, so that you may be able to encounter your own favorite HOTO restaurant while driving around.

 

When you drive around Yamanashi Prefecture and Shizuoka Prefecture, please refer to the below article. Driving around Mt. Fuji with viewing various expressions of Mt. Fuji is absolutely refreshing.

Related article: Driving with Mt. Fuji view

 

 

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