Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Sticky & Slimy...

Mekabu Huwa-Toro Udon

There is a franchise udon place called“Hanamaru udon” near the office I work at in the daytime. It is a self-service place which is very convenient for someone who wants to have quick lunch alone, like me. They have a good variety of non-expensive udon and sides, and in the typical fast-food setting, it is usually easy to find a vacant counter seat. Yes, that is a cafeteria-type self-service place where you take a tray first and pick the topping(s) and side(s) you want from the shelves, then order the kind of udon you like, which will be prepared within a minute or so, and finally move to the casher and pay.

This sticky & slimy udon is one of their recent entries. They have several versions of this huwa-toro series, including: natto, mekabu and beef, for each of which you can have a choice of either cold or warm soup. The one in the above photo is the mekabu version.

OK. Let’s see what the name of this udon, “mekabu huwa-toro udon” tells us. Mekabu is the slimy green stuff next to the egg (right) and it is sporophyll of wakame kelp (Undaria pinnatifida). It is supposed to be rich in fucoidan which is said to have several health benefits. Fuwa (fluffy?) probably came from the texture of the grated yam, the white stuff next to the egg (left). Yam is rich in mucin which is said to enhance the digestion and absorption of protein, and protect the stomach wall, thus lowering the risk of gastric ulcer. Toro (slimy?) applies to all of the mekabu, yam and okura. Here in Japan they say slimy foods are good for health, and the combination of fucoidan and mucin does sound healthy to me.

The only problem with this dish was that after you finish udon noodles, most of the healthy ingredients were left in the bowl with the soup. But if I’m not mistaken, they started offering an optional free (?? I’m not 100% sure about this point) bowl of rice with this dish so that you can pour the slimy soup mixture over the rice to make a very healthy and tasty donburi. I might give the donburi a try next time.

BTW, hanamaru is a rating given to something that is well-done in Japan. Oh, that reminds me… In Japan, in most school settings, teachers give circles to the correct answers and checkmarks to wrong ones on your written exams. (So you can imagine how shocked I was to see so many checkmarks on my first written exam in the U.S.) In my childhood, kindergarten and elementary school teachers gave hanamaru (flower circle) when they thought a kid did a very good job. I wonder if they still do that these days…



Evangeline said...

oooooo. I've heard of this dish!!
Always wanted to try it out~~ sounds gross but interesting XD

obachan said...

Hi evangeline,
Is this slimy dish that famous???
I guess this IS quite nutritious, though I'm not too crazy about eating slimy foods... It's kinda frustrating when they slip away as I try to chew them.

purplecupcake said...

I've heard of this too...It's delish!

lance-s said...

Wow, the "leftovers" sure would taste good over hot steaming rice.

Anonymous said...

Argh, I need this right now! (lunch time here)

obachan said...

Really? Mmmm... I wonder if this got some attention outside Japan because it's nutritious or because the slimy combination is so shockingly weird... ;P

I agree. I'd post about it if I gave it a try.

Hope you can come over and have a quick lunch here.