Sanuki udon is a specialty of Takamatsu city and Kagawa Prefecture on the northern shore of the island of Shikoku. It is so popular all over Japan, that Kagawa prefecture is also called “Udon Prefecture”. This area of Japan was known as Sanuki during the Edo Period (1603 to 1868), hence the name.
Sanuki Udon noodles are a little thicker than normal udon noodles. They also have a couple of square edges instead of being completely round like other udon noodles. And they also have a chewier texture than other udon noodles.
They are served in the same ways as other udon noodles, such as zaru style (served cold and dipped into sauce before eating), kake style (served hot in a soy and dashi based soup stock) and with tempura, including chicken tempura, another specialty of the Takamatsu and Kagawa area. But the original style is called “kamaage” style. The noodles are served in the hot water used to cook the noodles. This is a very uncommon way to eat udon noodles, but we recommend trying it this way.
The “kamaage” style noodles are dipped into a dipping sauce before eating in the same manner as zaru udon. But the dipping sauce is warm. The sauce is warmed by immersing the ceramic sauce containers in hot water just like sake was warmed long ago. The dipping sauce is made on site using local Kagawa prefecture anchovies and Hokkaido kelp among other ingredients. And of course the udon noodles are made using local Kagawa prefecture wheat.
It is a little bit out of the way, but Waraya (わら屋) is a well-known local favorite. The restaurant is in a thatch-roof building, and the dining room has a wonderful ambience with its exposed wooden beams. It is located next to the Shikoku-mura museum on the slopes of the Yashima plateau. You can take the Kotoden tram or the JR Line to the Yashima station, but the Kotoden station is much closer to the restaurant and we recommend the Kotoden line.
From the Kotoden Yashima station it is a 10 minute walk up the hill, or you can take the bus going to Yashima plateau, getting off at the first stop (Shikoku mura). The bus is less than 5 minutes and will cost 100 Yen, but there is only one bus per hour. The bus does not stop at the Shikoku-mura on the way back to the Kotoden station, and the walk back is a 5 to minute walk down the hill. The entrance to the restaurant is from the parking lot for the Shikoku-mura.