Tomato tsukemen to revivify town hit by rain

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Nakadomari tomato hiyashi tsukemen (cold Nakadomari tomato tsukemen noodles)

Four restaurants in Nakadomari, Aomori Prefecture, are offering cold Nakadomari tomato tsukemen noodles with mebaru rockfish, a local specialty, for a limited time through September.

The dish was developed by the Nakadomari Mebaru Ryori Suishin Kyogikai committee, which promotes and creates dishes incorporating the rockfish. An official of the committee said he hopes many people will try the specialty dish, which is the fourth in a series of dishes used to help revitalize a town that was hit hard by heavy rain in August.

The cold noodles are served with tomato soup, another town specialty. Toppings for the noodles include mebaru rockfish saute, yariika, or spear squid, and broccoli — another local product.

The tomato tsukemen is the “sister dish” to a tomato seafood ramen introduced in March last year. The other dishes in the series are Nakadomari mebaru rockfish sashimi and mebaru cooked with soy sauce, and Nakadomari mebaru rockfish chanko-nabe pot.

The tomato tsukemen costs ¥950 and is offered at Resutoran Tatsudomari, Kutsurogi Dainingu Tetsu, Shijimitei Naraya and Pyua Resutoran.

According to the committee, the tsukemen was developed because many customers, after eating tomato ramen, asked for cold tomato seafood noodles in the summer.

After much trial and error, the committee created a dish in which noodles, made from wheat grown in Hokkaido, are dipped into a bowl of gazpacho, a cold Spanish soup.

The four restaurants offering the dish serve the tsukemen in the image of the Spanish flag, using yellow spoons and tomato-shaped chopstick rests.

In August, the town’s tomato harvest was greatly affected as a result of the heavy rain. However, an official of the town’s fisheries, commerce and tourism division said that it would not impact the tomato tsukemen as raw tomatoes are not used for the dish.

“Although heavy rain damaged some areas of the town, we would still like people to visit,” the official said.