When you are in Kagawa Prefecture in Shikoku, you see udon shop in every corner even in the middle of rice paddies field. No kidding, we stopped in the middle of rice paddies field and went into the next door, a noodle restaurant which offer easy & free parking.
There are about 800 noodle shops in Kagawa Prefecture in Shikoku. If you missed one, there is always another one, few hundred meter away waiting for you. So don’t worry, you see it everywhere.
Self Serve Udon Restaurant
The Udon restaurant we went in is a self-serve so you need to order and pick up anything you like from the counter and pay. There are many self-serve udon restaurant in Japan, not only limited to Kagawa Prefecture. Some even have their own Franchise chains all around Japan.
Step to order Udon in Self Serve Udon Restaurant :
- Order the size of the udon you want, usually the size are in small or Large (Large is 2 times of small). (A small size cost JPY 210 / USD 1.85) and I ordered small only (see picture below)
- Once you receive your noodle, proceed along the counter and add various topping and side dishes such as Karage fried chicken, tempura seafood, tempura prawn or squid, chikuwa / Japanese fish cake, wakame seaweed, potato salad, cabbage salad etc. Different side dish has different price, JPY 100-200 (USD 0.90 – 1.80 )
- Add in green onion or sesame seed at the end of the counter.
- Pay and find a seat.
Cold & hot water or tea are usually free but bottle drinks are charged.
What is so special about the Udon in Kagawa Prefecture?
The Udon here is called Sanuki Udon. Sanuki is the old name for Kagawa Prefecture. The special characteristic of Sanuki Udon is its square shape and flat edges and also their broth is made from a type of dashi/soup base which different from the rest of other part of Japan.
Pour the side dish of seaweed into the hot soup and eat them together with the sanuki udon.
Shichimi togarashi 七味唐辛子
You see shichimi bottles in most of the casual restaurant in Japan such as ramen or udon restaurant. I like to have my udon sprinkle with lot of shichimi powder on top so it give more hot and spicy flavour. Shichimi togarashi 七味唐辛子 is a Japanese spice mixture containing 7 ingredients.
Konnyaku Dish – The weirdest dish I have tried in Japan!
I ordered Konnyaku which is an interesting dish in Japan. The texture is rubbery and tasteless. Japanese like to have this dish because they believe Konnyaku is healthy especially for people who wanted to lose weight. The Konnyaku calorie is very low and it keep you full easily. Konnyaku is a made from Glucomannan root – a dietary fibre, hard to digest but very good for stomach as it help to clean away all dirt. Konnyaku can be found in oden soup. Do order one and try it out. Most likely you get shocked, thinking you are eating some tasteless rubber.
The greyish rubber
Clap Your Hands & Say “Itadakimasu”
The first thing you learn when you are in Japan is Japanese will clap their hands and say “Itadakimasu” before having their meal. The meaning is similar to “Let’s eat”. But a deeper meaning is to show your appreciation for the food received.
You also have to say “Gochisousamadesu” after you finish your meal. It mean thank you for the meal and I really enjoyed it. It is very important to say it out loud especially if you are eating in your friend’s place as to show appreciation.
However, I did raise a question to my Japanese classmate years ago : “Do you still say “Itadakimasu” and “Gochisousamadesu” when you are eating alone at home?” The answer is yes. LOL. Some told me it is a habit that they have already formed and some said they still wanted to tell their “kamisama” god that they appreciate the meal given. “Itadakimasu” has nothing to do with religion by the way.
I know is kind of rude but I managed to capture a Japanese guy sincerely saying “Itadakimasu” before his sanuki udon.
Do remember to return the tray!
In most of the self-serve restaurant, the tray has to be returned at the return corner before leaving. Don’t walk away without returning the tray back and make sure the table is clean and not too dirty. You can use the tissue on the table to wipe away the debris on the table.
Final thoughts :
If you are a budget traveler then udon won’t cost too much damage on your wallet. With only JPY 210 (USD 1.80) to JPY 600 (USD 5.30) you get to enjoy one of the best Sanuki Udon in Kagawa Prefecture in Shikoku Island, Japan.
Parking is convenient too, right in front of the restaurant and it is free.