Saitama is home to a noodle restaurant chain famous for its use of authentic Sichuan spices, which are not easy to find in Japan. Sichuan cuisine is particularly famous for mala – ma (麻) which means "numbing" and la (辣) which means "spicy (hot.)" So called because mala dishes curiously cause tongue numbing. At Hanasanshou, diners can enjoy ramen, dandanmen, and tsukemen (dipped noodles) in broth specially crafted with Sichuan peppers and fragrant oils. Not exactly a fan of spicy food but would still like to try the full-bodied and deep flavors of traditional Sichuan fare? Not to worry. You can select the spice level of your ramen. Hanasanshou is kid and family-friendly. I highly recommend getting their winged gyoza and order additional topping of braised pork, which is one of the tastiest and most tender pork I've ever had. This noodle joint is particularly popular in the winter, when people crave something hot and spicy to warm the belly. Hanasanshou has branches in Sayama, Tsurugashima and Hidaka.
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For Sherilyn Siy, Asia is home. Born in Hong Kong, Sherilyn spent time in the Philippines, China, and now lives in Japan. She speaks English, Filipino, Chinese (or putonghua), and Hokkien, her family's local dialect. Running is one of her favorite ways to explore Japan. She proudly finished the 2015 Tokyo Marathon -- her first ever full marathon -- in 4 hours and 37 minutes. She was absolutely psyched when she got selected again to run the new Tokyo Marathon route in 2018. She hopes to complete other races in Japan.