Throughout our vacations in Japan, we are always on a lookout for restaurant chains that are economical and delicious! If you are a fan of Japanese noodles, particularly UDON, we are happy to recommend to you this udon franchised chain restaurant in Japan – Sanuki Udon Hanamaru.
Some informative facts about udon:
Udon is a form of white noodle cuisine that has a thick (4mm – 6mm), soft and chewy texture made from kneading wheat flour, salt and water. Udon can be enjoyed throughout all seasons, served either warm (in hot broth during winter) or cold (dipped in sauce – this sauce is known as mentsuyu during summer). It is also frequently used in other popular Japanese dishes such as Yakiudon (in stir-fried form), Nabeyaki Udon (in steamboat form) and curry udon (in curry form).
Nutritional benefits of eating udon:
- High amount of carbohydrates. If you consume whole-wheat udon noodles, it contains complex carbohydrates which are high in fibre. Complex carbohydrates help with weight-loss and prevention of heart problems and type 2 diabetes.
- Rich in protein and vitamin B.
- No fats, trans-fat-free (easily digestible).
Do caution that wheat flour contains gluten and as such, udon may not be suitable for gluten-allergic consumers. In such instances, you may look for udon that are made entirely from rice flour.
The “Sanuki Udon Hanamaru” brand is franchised under Hanamaru Inc, a udon manufacturing company founded by Mr Hideto Maeda in 2001 in Takamatsu, the capital city of Kagawa Prefecture on Shihoku island. Hanamaru Inc specialises in manufacturing “sanuki udon” – a type of udon with square shape and flat edges that originates from Kagawa Prefecture. (Interesting fact: Kagawa Prefecture used to be called “Sanuki Province” in olden Japan). In 2006, Hanamaru Inc became a subsidiary company of Yoshinoya Holdings Co.,Ltd. Now, there are 434 Sanuki Udon Hanamaru franchised restaurants; 415 in Japan, 10 in China and 9 in Malaysia.
The example that I am using in this blog is the franchised restaurant located at Takadanobaba, Shinjuku in Tokyo. Do rest assured that the menu and ordering procedure is similar in all restaurants.
Right at the doorstep, there is a huge standing signage on their main menu, with various udon offerings.
For your and my easy reference, I adapted an English version from their website. So tempting!
P/S: A bowl of basic sanuki udon cost just 130 yen (approximately SGD1.60.)
The shop wall hangs more appetitising posters of their offerings. They serve rice bowls (don) as well!
However, based on my observation, 90% of the patrons are eating sanuki udon.
An overview. Look at the queue!
The ordering procedure is very similar to a SUBWAY fast food restaurant.
Step 1: Decide on the type of udon you would like to order while in queue.
Step 2: Order with the staff when it’s your turn. If you can’t speak Japanese, just point to the picture or tell them the number. They can understand simple English. Remember to tell them your preferred serving size: small, medium or large.
Step 3: Wait while the staff prepare your udon on the spot. They are very efficient and I think it will take approximately a minute or lesser! While waiting, take a tray from below.
Step 4: The staff will place your udon on the tray. Now, move on to the Tempura Station on your right.
Top (from left to right): Deep-fried Chikuwa (Boiled fish paste) with seaweed – 110 yen, Hokkaido Irish Cobbler Croquette – 120 yen, fried chicken piece – 100 yen.
Bottom (from left to right): Healthy mixed vegetable strip tempura – 140 yen, Squid tentacles – 160 yen.
Top (from left to right): Hokkaido Irish Cobbler Croquette – 120 yen, Japanese Fried Chicken Karaage – 100 yen, Egg plant – 110 yen, Sweet Potato Tempura – 110 yen.
Bottom (from left to right): Chicken piece – 140 yen, Shrimp Tempura – 140 yen, Squid – 110 yen.
Step 5: You may add on optional individual servings of tempura to your meal. Each type of tempura is clearly labelled with name and price (per piece). Exchange rate: SGD1 = 80 Yen.
Step 6: You may add soup if you prefer a more soupy udon.
Step 7: Next to the soup container, there is a small rack. You may add on onigiri (rice ball)- 130 yen (on top level) or cooked rice with tofu skin – 100 yen (on bottom level).
Step 8: Make payment at cashier.
Step 9: Help yourself with complimentary iced water.
Step 10: Collect your cutlery. You may also add on more garnishing / dipping sauce for your udon – soy sauce, wasabe paste, sesame, garlic, tempura crumbs.
Step 11: Enjoy your meal!
My sumptuous order: Special Soy Sauce Udon with Half-boiled Egg and Beef.
Additional tempura: Deep-fried Chikuwa (Boiled fish paste) with Seaweed and Japanese Fried Chicken Karaage
Total cost: 660 yen before taxes (approximately SGD8.25)
Overview of Sanuki Udon Hanamaru:
Sanuki Udon Hanamaru has franchised restaurants all over Japan and it’s quite easy to spot them with their signature orange and white flower signage. Please refer to their website for details of each restaurant. They have varying operating hours but typically open by 11am.
Do walk in for a delicious and fulfilling meal!