Houtou noodles: A great treat for a great day near Mt. Fuji

Photos by Takahiro Takiguchi
Photos by Takahiro Takiguchi

Houtou noodles: A great treat for a great day near Mt. Fuji

by Takahiro Takiguchi
Stripes Japan

When Red November comes back every year, my wife and I make it a rule to drive around Fuji Five Lake area to check out snow-capped Mt. Fuji in autumn colors. A two-hour drive from our home in Yokosuka City near the U.S. naval base always makes us refreshed with breathtaking view of the symbol of Japan in gorgeous autumn colors. Our visit includes a stop at Momiji Kairo, or autumn foliage promenade, which is lined with around 400-500 maple trees along Lake Kawaguchiko. The promenade is illuminated every night between late October and late November.

Since our autumn trip goes late into the night to catch the illuminations, we also know that we’re going to wrap our yearly routine with a nice bowl of houtou noodles at Momijitei near the promenade. You’ll find the restaurant inside a traditional building with red noren curtains displaying the shop’s name in white kanji letters.

It’s signature dish, houtou, is a miso-based broth soup featuring flat and thick noodles, a variety of meat options and chunks of hearty local pumpkin, green onions and mushrooms. The hot noodles at the Momijitei always warm us up and energize us for the drive back home.

The restaurant can accommodate nearly 60 guests, but in the fall season it is packed with hungry customers wanting a bowl of the signature houtou noodles. If you are visiting the shop for the first time, be sure to sample this signature dish. Among three options in the houtou – pumpkin, beef and mushrooms, we often chose Pumpkin Houtou for 1,100 yen, as sliced sweet pumpkins make the tasty hot broth even richer and more complicated.

Besides houtou, Momijitei offers a variety of hot and cold soba noodle dishes, along with some traditional Japanese appetizers like tempura, sesame tofu, fried wakasagi (smelts).

So, while my wife ordered her Pumpkin Houtou, just as she does every year, this time, I chose the hot Tororo Soba for 1,320 yen. Our server said the soba for this dish is made with buckwheat from Oshino Village, known for its eight ponds of pure water and tasty vegetables, soba, tofu and eggs. The highland climate and extremely pure water from Fuji makes soba and other crops very tasty.

The soba noodle was just excellent as I expected! The Oshino soba noodles had a chewy yet smooth texture. The refreshing, sweet aroma and the flavors burst in my mouth the more I chewed. The broth was slightly dry, which helped showcase the taro potato, beaten egg, seaweed, bell pepper and onion toppings. On the side, my set came with glutinous rice with red beans, an assortment of sesame tofu, stewed radish and potatoes. These were delicious but I was very full afterward.

As the autumn leaves start to fly away and the cold season sets in over Fuji and its surrounding areas, a nice, heartwarming bowl of houtou is just what you need when visiting. There are many houtou restaurants around Kawaguchiko, but Momijitei with 25 years of experience serving up the delicious dish, stands out as one of the best. Next time you’re in the area, make sure to give them a try!

Location: 3067-1 Kawaguchi, Fuji-Kawaguchiko Town, Yamanashi Prefecture
Hours: 10:30 a.m. – 7 p.m.
TEL: 0555-76-8200


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