Sanuki udon noodles have been eaten in Kagawa prefecture since the time of Kukai (founder of the Shingon school of Buddhism). But did you know that in recent years a new custom has emerged to complement this local dish with a long history?
In order to verify the custom, I’ve come to the Matsunami branch (Takamatsu city) of Sanuki Mengyo, an udon noodle chain with a total of 10 shops in Kagawa, Osaka and Fukuoka.
As you can see, the shop interior is spacious. The shop offers full service, so you can just sit down and enjoy your meal.
Well then, as I sit down at my table…. Right away I spot our target for today!
Toshiake udon (‘New Year udon noodles’).
Over the New Year period in Kagawa, it has become customary to eat auspicious udon noodles together with something red.
While there are a variety of ingredients with which the noodles can be topped, this one is typical Kagawa!
And even its name is “Sanuki no Toshiake Udon” (‘Sanuki New Year udon noodles’). This dish is topped with a glutinous rice cake, red like the first sunrise of the year.
And then, what makes it so typical of Kagawa is…
…the rice cake is filled with sweet red bean paste!! You may already be aware of this, but in many households in Kagawa prefecture, the traditional Japanese New Year’s dish, ozoni (a hot soup with rice cakes plus a combination of other ingredients that vary according to area and household) contains glutinous rice cakes filled with sweet red bean paste. This traditional dish worked as a hint for creating ‘Sanuki no Toshiake Udon’. The flavors of the salty broth and the sweet bean paste support each other, and it’s gaining fans one after another!
Slurp, slurp, and before noticing, I’ve finished the dish. After settling down a bit, I take another look around the shop. In one corner I see the craftsman quietly kneading udon dough.
At Sanuki Gyomen Matsunami you can see udon noodles being made up close like this.
As udon-making courses are held at the nearby Sanuki Gyomen Headquarters Plant, you can also try making udon dough yourself if you make a reservation! (Details in Japanese here:こちら).
“At Sanuki Gyomen we make thousands of udon portions everyday using traditional methods.”
The person telling me this with a friendly smile is Mr. Masaaki Kagawa, the 3rd generation proprietor. A superior udon craftsman, he has been polishing his udon making skills since he was at elementary school.
After enjoying your delicious noodles, don’t forget to buy some as souvenirs, too!
New Year udon is offered at various shops in Kagawa prefecture over the New Year period. Do have a try of this auspicious dish!
Below is map of shops offering the dish:
Sanuki Gyomen Matsunami Shop
Location: 235-1 Nishihazemachi, Takamatsu city, Kagawa prefecture
Closed: Open every day
New Year’s udon Official Homepage:
Setouchi Finder Photo-writer: Izumi Furukawa
Izumi Furukawa Hello. My name is Izumi Furukawa and I was born in Kagawa Prefecture. Before getting married in 2012, I wrote for various magazine companies and Internet based media organizations in Tokyo. After marrying, I moved to Hiroshima and am now raising my child as well as writing stories about my fascination with this area through Setouchi Finder. Most of the articles I write are about places I visit on weekends with my family. My favorite driving course is Route 375 from Saijyo to the Miyoshi Area, and my favorite food from the Hiroshima area is Anagomeshi (from Miyajima)!!
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