Sunday, July 3, 2016

Shikoku Autumn 2014 四国秋季之旅 - Chikusei 竹清, Matsushita Seimencho 松下製麺所

Visited 13.11.2014 (Thu)

Udon map - a useful tool to explore the land of udon.
Sanuki Udon. Sanuki is actually the former name of Kagawa in the olden days. Udon is so popular in Kagawa and this is statement is supported by numbers. Statistics has shown that consumption of udon here is the highest among all prefectures in Japan. I am a fan of udon, therefore being able try this soul food of Kagawa made me look forward to this trip. After dropping our luggage at the hotel, we headed for the tourist information counter in Takamatsu JR Station. Requested for a useful map with an exhaustive list of shops/restaurants serving udon in Takamatsu city; seek advice from the staff on the recommended shops/restaurants to visit and begun on a half day udon feast!

Udon taxi? This is a unique taxi service only available in Takamatsu. Instead of conventional lamps, lookout for taxis which have a food replica of udon with standout characters "うどん", placed on the roof of the cars instead. Based on the duration of hire, the taxi driver will craft out a route to cover udon hideouts which are less accessible by buses/trains. Please note that reservation is required and this can be done either online (in Japanese) or through phone (can get the help from tourist information center or hotel upon arrival). This is an ideal option to try out more shops especially when you only have a limited amount of time to spare.

Sanuki Udon featured in Posta Collect regional postcard collection.
Unfulfilled dream. Was quite ambitious to visit as many shops/restaurants as possible in Takamatsu city within one afternoon. As small eaters to start off with, we were already bloated after our second bowl of udon and could not proceed further! In fact, the shop which I wanted to try most was Hinode Seimensho (日の出製麺所) located about 15 minutes walk away from Sakata JR Station. This shop is frequently featured in books and programs; first started out as a noodle manufacturer in 1930 and later served freshly made udon to a long queue of waiting customers during the lunch hour (literally an hour since it is only opened from 1130 to 1230 hrs). Sad to say, we could not make it to this shop because we reached Takamatsu city way past the lunch hour.

Video: Scroll to 21:30 for the feature on Hinode Seimensho. 

How to order? If you have been to Tamoya Udon before in Singapore, you will be familiar with their self service concept. Similar concept is employed in most shops here. First decide on the serving size and type - hot or cold. With your bowl with noodles, proceed to warm the noodles with the strainers and hot water provided at one corner (pour the noodles into the strainers, warm them briefly in the hot water, drain the water away and put the noodles back into the bowl). Choose from a variety of toppings (from fried tofu to tempura items), add condiments such as green onions and tempura bits, and finally add the broth which is normally contained in a dispenser (if you are having the hot version).  


A group photo taken with the help of a kind staff! 
(1) Chikusei 竹清
760-0006 香川県高松市亀岡町2-23
Opening hrs: 1100 - 1430 hrs, Closed on Mondays.

First meal we had in Shikoku. Reached there before 2 pm and the shop was still packed with diners. Placed our order - requested for the half serving and added two toppings (tempura fish cake stick and tempura soft boiled egg) and followed what the rest did to warm the noodles, add the condiments and broth. The tempura fish cake stick and soft boiled egg were cooked upon order and were served to our tables. Noodles was firm and springy; broth looked light yet surprisingly flavourful. What left me the deepest impression were actually the unexpectedly delicious tempura fish cake stick and tempura soft boiled egg. This is my first time eating a soft boiled egg in tempura style; revealing the runny egg yolk after biting into the crispy coating! Enjoyed this simple bowl of udon at an affordable price of 320 yen only (120 yen for the noodle and 100 yen each for the topping). I can still remember vividly one kind gesture which occurred when I was taking a picture of the shop exterior after the meal. The staff came out from the shop and offered to help us take a group photo. In fact, such warm hospitality from locals were encountered very often throughout our trip in Shikoku - something that I am particularly appreciative of and will associate with whenever I speak about this island.  

Completed the meal with two toppings: tempura fish cake stick and soft boiled egg.
Forgot to take a photo of how the runny egg yolk looked like after biting into the egg. Found this picture placed outside the shop. 
How to get there?

(1) By bus
Take Shopping Rainbow Bus ショッピングレインポー (Anticlockwise direction 反時計廻り) from bus terminal at Takamatsu JR Station and alight at Hachihonmatsu 八本松.

(2) By train. About 10 mins walk from Ritsurin Koen Kitaguchi JR Station 栗林公園北口駅.


(2) Matsushita Seimencho 松下製麺所
760-0008 香川県高松市中野町2-2
Opening hrs: 0700 - 1730 hrs; Closed on Sundays.

Made our way to the next shop which is not too far away from Chikusei, Took some time to find this shop which was hidden in one of the small alleys. Dinning area in Matsushita Seimencho was much smaller compared to Chikusei, with only counter tables. Ordered only one bowl to share as we were still quite full from the first meal. Firm characteristic of noodles is also evident in Matsushita; felt that the broth could be a bit more flavourful (was a bit too mild for my liking). Overall, taste was ok but not mind blowing.

How to get there? 
(1) By train. About 7 mins walk from Ritsurin Koen Kitaguchi JR Station 栗林公園北口駅.

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