Sanuki udon noodles are the most famous type of Udon noodles in Japan today. Sanuki udon was a regular food for people living in Kagawa, and they didn’t think it was anything special. That changed in the 1980s after a local magazine published an article about the dish!
Kagawa prefecture has always had good flour, salt and soy sauce. Udon was a part of their life. The article introduced many udon specialty restaurants in Kagawa and got the attention of Japanese citizens nationwide. Today, touring the area to try out all kinds of savory udon has become one of the favorite national pastime activities. Shikoku is an island off the coast of mainland Japan that is shared by several prefectures. In 1988, Seto Bridge was constructed between the mainland and Shikoku. The bridge made it easy for tourists to come to Shikoku. And as the number of tourists increased, so did the popularity of Sanuki udon.
The people of Kagawa were also good marketers. They took initiative to promote their udon and received widespread media coverage. In one TV program where Japanese celebrities were to travel around Japan to search for famous udon dishes, Sanuki udon was discovered. This was a great advertisement, and more people flocked to Kagawa after the broadcast. Local Udon production have increased tremendously, and many people have started venturing into the deep countryside of Kagawa to find hidden udon joints!
Sanuki udon is considered as a great business model and example of the successful branding of local products to achieve commercial success, which in turn stimulates the local economy.
Sanuki udon noodles are neither too soft nor too chewy, and go through one’s throat smoothly. One of our recommendations is Kamatama-Udon – beaten egg with condiments, fish broth or soy sauce that is poured onto boiled udon. This was not a traditional Kagawa Udon recipe, but one that had become a favorite for customers and workers at local udon shops and udon factories. Its popularity has continued to spread to the younger generations, and it now has widespread appeal and recognition. One local soccer team – Kamata-mare Sanuki — even named itself after Kamatama style udon.
For people who don’t care for raw eggs, we recommend Bukkake-udon, which is served either hot or cold. This Udon dish is served with fish broth with soy sauce, often with toppings of lemon and minced daikon (Japanese radish). There are many toppings that go well with udon dishes, and most restaurants usually offer a variety to choose from.
Photo by Kagawa Prefecture Tourism Association