Sanuki udon is a noodle dish named after the previous name of Kagawa Prefecture in Shikoku, the smallest prefecture in all of Japan. Despite its size, Kagawa currently has approximately 800 Sanuki udon shops due to their overwhelming popularity of their udon.
Udon are thick white noodles made of wheat flour, water and salt. While the same basic ingredients are used to create all udon, Sanuki udon are firmer, and cook up a bit chewier than other udon, and the superior quality Kagawa water and salt contributes to its outstanding flavor and texture.
Lately, Japan has been seeing a self-service udon restaurant boom. Franchise chains such as Hanamaru Udon and Marugame Seimen offer udon in cafeteria style restaurants, where customers order their udon, usually according to size, and then, after they receive a bowl with the noodles, they proceed along the counter adding various toppings, side dishes and soups or dipping sauces to their tray. Condiments such as green onions or sesame seeds are available at the end of the counter.
Udon is low calorie and easy to digest. The cost at self-service establishments for a bowl a noodles usually runs to just a few dollars, probably half of what you would pay at a sit-down restaurant. Put all that together, and you have a healthy, inexpensive and delicious way to enjoy udon!
The popularity of these stores as seen by the comments posted on current blogs, etc. by non-Japanese attests to the fact that it’s not only Japanese who love their noodles!
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You can't say you know how good udon is if you've never tasted sanuki udon in Kagawa-ken. I'm in love with a shop in Takamatsu, their sanuki udon is kind of a treasure!
Never been to Kagawa, but when I was living in Tokyo there was a sanuki udon down the corner from me. Not totally sure if it was authentic, but it certainly was delicious.