HOT PLATES: Nyūmen Pop! With Mr Thomas

Nara, Japan

Having settled in the magical town of Nara, Japan, almost a decade ago, designer Mike Thomas found himself among a close-knit music community where, under his DJ name, Mr Thomas, his eclectic sets were well-received in their regular haunts.

His record collection spans soul, jazz, funk, disco, house and electronica, the majority of which are of African, Caribbean and tropical origin, but to accompany this week’s Japanese recipe, he brings us a selection of Kayōkyoku and Group Sounds from ’60s and ’70s Japan that he has collected (mostly on 7”) since he’s been living there.

Kayōkyoku – literally meaning popular music – sees traditional Japanese styles blended with Western influences, including; blues, jazz, Latin pop, and European pop. ‘Group Sounds’ became popular in the mid to late 1960s, fusing Kayōkyoku with western rock ‘n’ roll, rhythm and blues, beat and psychedelia.

Mike didn’t have to forage far for his Hot Plates recipe. Yuka, Mike’s wife, lets us in on her perfect companion for the wintery months; a traditional Japanese noodle broth called Nyūmen. As with most things in Japan, the ingredients are simple and few in number yet the result is perfectly balanced, full of flavour and wholesome.


Nyūmen is a traditional Japanese dish, typically served during autumn and winter. It’s made with sōmen noodles (thin wheat noodles), but you can also use soba or udon noodles if you can’t get hold of any sōmen.

Ingredients (serves 2)

  • 2x bundles of dried sōmen noodles
  • 1/4 carrot
  • 2x Shiitake mushroom
  • 3x 200ml cups of water
  • 1.5 tbsp soy sauce
  • 3.4 tbsp mirin
  • Pinch of salt
  • 4g dashi powder
  • 1x mitsuba leaf*

*If you can’t find mitsuba, add a sprinkle of chopped green onion instead.


  1. Prepare your ingredients
  2. Prepare the soup. Pour the water into a pot. Add dashi, veggies, soy sauce, mirin and salt. Bring to the boil and bubble away for a couple of minutes until your carrots and mushrooms are cooked.
  3. Add the sōmen to the soup and bring to the boil until the noodles are cooked. Take care to follow the instructions on the packet, because it’s easy to over-cook and it will become too soggy.
  4. Serve, decorate with the mitsuba leaf and enjoy