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Beginning in Sapporo, the capital of Japan’s northernmost island of Hokkaido, Chinese-style noodles were first discovered.  Today, Asian noodles are considered a staple in both Japan and China.  In Singapore, what Americans know as “Ramen” noodles is actually called Maggi Mee. 

Interestingly, many of the companies found in the United States actually cloned Asian noodles in the form of Top Ramen, Campbell’s, Lipton’s, and other like products.  In fact, Asian noodles in this form have become so popular that this is actually a billion dollar business – annually. 

While each country creates their noodles a little differently, in China, you would find them in Szechwan style while in Japan you would expect to eat noodles flavored with seafood along with mild spices. 

Dating back to the 13th Century, Marco Polo was the person responsible for bringing noodles to China from Italy as a way of enhancing pasta.  What you will find with Asian noodles is that once again, the East meets the West as many of the traditional ingredients are being used in noodle dishes. 

Noodles are very important in Chinese culture especially, symbolizing longevity.  By eating the noodles, it was believed that a life long would be achieved.  Additionally, it is still common for noodles to be served at birthday parties instead of a birthday cake. 

In Japan, you will find two primary types of noodles – Udon and Soba.  The Udon noodles are very common in the western portions of Japan while Soba is found more in the eastern portion.  The Udon noodles are made from soba, which comes from a grain from a plant easy to harvest, and wheat flour.  Once the noodles are cooked, different toppings are added and the noodles are then served hot.  However, if you like, you can eat this type of soup cold. 

Because train stations and many other restaurants in Japan and China are so popular for the noodles they serve, you will usually find that you have to wait to find a seat.  Additionally, people will become very antsy if you do not scarf the hot noodles down quickly so that they too can get in to get a bowl.  Therefore, when visiting Japan and China, try to find a quieter restaurant where you can truly enjoy an authentic Asian noodle dinner. 

Additionally, if you are eating noodles while in Japan, you should always slurp.  Rather than being considered offensive, this act is actually customary and considered a compliment.  You will quickly discover that the noodles in Japan are delicious, whether there in the winter or summer.


 

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