Sanuki udon has become the type of udon to have a frenzy on. Originally from the Kagawa Prefecture in Japan, you can find sanuki udon in Tokyo today and the udon shop, Mentsudan, is allegedly responsible for triggering the popularity of this thick and smooth udon in Tokyo. Mentsudan is a relatively spacious udon shop for Tokyo standards considering that tight 8-10 seater noodle shops are the norm in Tokyo.
We walk inside the shop and the chef who prepares the udon is right by the entrance and behind the counter with the steam wafting around him. After quickly perusing the laminated menu with cold and hot options for the udon preparation, we place our orders from him: udon with natto (fermented soy beans) and raw egg, and udon with tarako (cod roe). Both are bowls of cold udon without broth. After the chef hands us our bowls of udon, it's time to spruce up the meal. We walk over to the section with a great selection of tempura to go as side items with the noodles. The tempura is self-serve and we pick as many or as few pieces of tempura we want. Some of the selections include fishcake, octopus, assorted vegetables, small whole whitefish, shrimp, and croquette. In addition, other non-tempura sides are available such as onigiri (rice balls), grated daikon, and scallions.
The sanuki udon is every bit tasty and delicious even though prepared and served without broth. In fact, I'd go as far to say that the noodles are tastier than those we've had with broth. When noodles are served with broth, the flavor has to come from the broth itself. Here, when the sanuki udon is served dry, the dressing and sauce that accompany the noodles has to shine. We mix and toss together our udon with the sauce and dressing that is prepared with the noodles. We slurp them up, a few strands at a time. The sanuki udon is fat and thick, perfectly chewy and firm to bite with an excellent al dente texture to it, while combined with the noodles' slippery and smooth texture that makes the slurping process easier. Or, maybe we've just become a tad better at slurping our noodles like the Japanese...
Daikan Plaza Business Kiyoda Buiding 1F
3-min walk from JR Shinjuku Station