Sanuki Udon Hanamaru: Udon Need Anything Else
Hi everyone! Today, we're going to talk about Sanuki Udon Hanamaru in Shibuya, Japan. At first glance, you can tell the food looks pretty good compared to udon standards outside of Japan. Well, you will be even more bamboozled to realize that this whole meal costed less than $15 USD for both me and Steph. We ordered 3 bowls of udon, some chicken karaage, and two fried vegetable snacks. This was a LOT of food. If you visit Sanuki Udon Hanamaru, you can easily spend under $4 USD per person. Some udon bowls cost less than a dollar!
It doesn't take a genius to realize that this is a business dependent on producing high volumes of food. Udon bowls are constructed in seconds, while all the small appetizer options are constantly refreshed and stocked. At this location, you walk down a short aisle, ordering your udon and grabbing the (mostly fried) appetizers that suit your cravings. After paying, you can find yourself a seat, which isn't too hard to do since the turnover is so quick.
Anyway, if you're on a budget and are looking for some tasty udon, make sure you stop by Sanuki Udon Hanamaru!
Real quick, I want to mention that udon is a beautiful noodle. There's something pure and innocent about a simple bowl of udon. It tastes comforting regardless of the season. Udon is primarily made with wheat flour and can be distinguished by its unique thickness (anywhere from 1/8th to 1/4th of an inch). Udon can be served hot or cold. The hot udon usually comes with a broth made of dashi (cooking stock), soy sauce, and mirin (rice wine).
Steph and I both got Udon. Steph got hers with an onsen egg (see above), while I had mine with some grated yam. The udon was hot, fresh, smooth, and chewy - all of which are characteristics of good udon. The broth and the toppings should be so unassuming that it's really just there to compliment the quality of the noodles. My favorite part about eating udon is that it feels al dente. I hate eating soft, soggy noodles.
Remember those fried appetizers I mentioned earlier? Here they are. I wanted to try three different ones because they were so affordable as you will see shortly. First, we got a simple Chicken Karaage (see above). It's basically boneless fried chicken. It's lightly fried and the portion is typically prepared in bite-sized pieces. You can't go wrong with this. Each piece is only 100 yen (about $.88 USD).
Next, I got the Korokke (see above). I feel like fried food contrasts well with those long, silky noodles. The Korokke is no exception. It's derived from the French croquette. The Japanese version is usually patty-shaped. It is often filled with a variety of ingredients (vegetables, meat, or seafood) but mostly mashed potato. The patty is covered in flour, eggs, and breadcrumbs then deep-fried until crispy. Sanuki Udon Hanamaru's Korokke is a bit oily but it was still good. The Korokke costs 120 yen (about $1.06 USD)
Lastly, I got the Kakiage (see above). This one is fried too because... why not? This is a type of tempura that is made with a mixture of strips of different vegetables. It usually consists of carrot, onion, and burdock root. Sometimes, it even comes with little bits of shrimp. Kakiage tastes surprisingly light. I like it! The Kakiage costs 140 yen (about $1.23 USD)