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Sanuki Udon Hanamaru

Overrun by Ramen and Soba shops, Udon to the rescue

The term "noodle shop" usually refers to a restaurant that serves ramen or perhaps one that serves soba. If you're fortunate enough to happen upon an authentic Sanuki-style udon restaurant, then you are about to feast on one of Japan's least know treasured noodle varieties. One of the likely Japanese origins of the wide noodle, usually 4-6 mm wide, much bigger than ramen and soba noodles, is that is was introduced from China into what is now the Sanuki area of Kagawa Prefecture in the north of Shikoku Island. Today Sanuki-style udon shops are popular for using udon that is freshly made from scratch each day on the premises or nearby, resulting in square like noodles, and using dashi-based soup that gives it a strangely different but delicious umami taste. Do you known about umami? Umami is the fifth taste, not salty, sweet, bitter, or sour. Sanuki udon is usually served with vegetable tempura. I recently sampled much of my wife's tororokonbu udon (a hot grated seaweed udon) at the Sanuki udon Hanamaru restaurant in Uruma City. The dashi base gives it a fish flavor that complements the wheat based-noodles just right. Hanamaru is the leading Sanuki-style udon chain and leading udon chain in Japan with more than 300 locations. Hanamaru is on the second floor of the Ryukyu Aeon Gusikawa Shopping Center at the intersections of Routes 85 and 33 and is open daily 10:00 ~ 22:00. Nearly everything is less than 1,000 yen even when adding a drink and a couple of pieces of vegetable tempura.

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