THE NOODLE IS THE STORY
by Jackie Brett
The newest restaurant in Chinatown is Café Sanuki, a Japanese Noodle Bar, and its origin begins with the Udon noodle. While the ingredients are basic, the special precise preparation is a time-honored tradition in Japan following a specific set of rules, which owner local businessman Henry Fan has taken to the nth degree.
It was Fan’s trip to Hawaii where he discovered what would become his passion and new business endeavor. When he saw a line around the block, he made it his mission to discover what was enticing the crowd. It turned out to be a restaurant serving authentic Udon noodle dishes. In his excitement, he changed his itinerary and headed directly to Japan where he could learn everything about the thick noodle in the village of Sanuki. There he met Udon Master Mr. Minemoto who taught him the science and art of preparing centuries-old recipes.
Fan’s discoveries included how important the specialized machinery and Sanuki-based ingredients are. Sparing no cost, he bought his equipment from there and even hired a certified expert to recreate the exact water pH composition found in Sanuki. When you enter the restaurant you’re greeted by a three-tiered display of sample dishes. When you turn to the right, behind glass, you can see the machinery used to mix the dough and to allow it to rise and witness the process of creating these precise, perfect Udon noodles.
Ordering food is cafeteria style where you pick up your tray and select your Udon by name or number. You may also choose side dishes including tempura, hand rolls, pork bao or oden. Everything is reasonably priced and non-alcoholic drinks include a Coke Freestyle Machine with 144 flavors, fruit teas and lemonade with the eatery’s own recipe blend. The restaurant stresses ingredients are all nature and fresh with no MSG or artificial flavors.
Another tip is in Japan slurping your Udon is encouraged and a sign of respect to the master. If it were music, it’s like giving a standing ovation. The noodles are inordinately long so you may have fun slurping away.
Take a good look at the interior design, lighting fixtures, trays, dishes, etc. Fan studied architecture and his attention to detail is inspiring.
Café Sanuki is located on the west end of Chinatown at 4821 Spring Mountain Road. It opens daily at 11:30 a.m. for lunch and for dinner at 5:30 p.m. with a break between the two to reset and closes at 9:30 p.m. on weekdays and 10 p.m. on weekends. Phone is 702-331-9860 and website http://cafesanuki.com/.