Zen Sanuki Udon
Zen Sanuki Udon is where to get top-quality udon noodles in Toronto. Head chef Seiichi Kashiwabara, who has had over 40 years of Japanese culinary experience, is also the owner of Zen in Markham which has long held the reputation as one of the best sushi joints in town.
The restaurant is open and inviting, certainly more modern than its more traditional sushi sister restaurant.
While udon noodles may seem extremely basic, the restaurant takes no shortcuts in its preparation.
Chef Kashiwabara imports the flour and materials from the Sanuki province, an area in Japan well-known for its udon. The result? Perfectly chewy udon every time.
The Beef Cold Udon/Niku Bukkae Udon ($19) contains AAA Canadian beef slice along with a soft onsen egg, fish cake, and sesame seeds among other things, along with a generous smattering of tempura bits in a cold dashi broth.
If you don't want a completely cold broth but also don't feel like a hot noodle soup, the Duck Dipping Udon/Kamo Tsuke Udon ($20) is a good option.
Here, cold chewy udon is dipped into a hot concentrated dashi broth mixed with tempura bits and spring onion. It's simply fab.
The side of medium-rare duck breast is perfectly cooked and adds a salty and fatty flavour to the dish.
One of my personal faves here is the Beef Curry Udon/Niku Curry Udon ($20) which mixes udon noodleswith tempura bits, beef, and seaweed in a richly satisfying Japanese curry thick broth. It's substantial and satisfying.
Fans of a more traditional udon experience should try the Pork Belly Hot Udon/Buta Udon ($17) which uses a special Sangenton breed pork belly sliced thinly and mixed with fish cake, seaweed, green onion, and tempura bits. It's all drowned in a delicious hot dashi broth.
Not in the moods for noodles? The Kaisen Don ($26) is fresh sashimi including tuna, hamachi and surf clam among others mixed with special sesame dressing on a bed of steamed rice.
The restaurant will mix the last third of the dish with hot dashi broth, creating a pseudo-congee dish that is soothingly satisfying.
You can also get excellent Hand Rolls here ($6 each) such as hamachi and tuna. The seaweed wrap here is imported from Japan which comes pre-sealed in a cellophane wrap that preserves its crispness.