Eating out / Sendai diner’s specialty noodles break down barriers

The Yomiuri Shimbun

Udon noodles, back left, vegetable tempura, back right, chicken tempura

By Nobuo Ishizaki / Yomiuri Shimbun Staff WriterSENDAI — Sake Udon Utou opened in September last year in an area of Sendai with many government office buildings.

With its black decor and tranquil atmosphere, it doesn’t feel like a typical udon shop. Its noodles are made from Yukichikara, a variety of wheat grown in Miyagi Prefecture known for its strong dough.

The restaurant serves not only regular white udon, but also a type of black udon that contains bamboo charcoal. The black noodles are mainly served in Western-themed udon dishes made with lots of vegetables.

“Of course it tastes delicious, but I also want people to enjoy eating healthy udon noodles after having a few alcoholic drinks,” said 36-year-old Hidekuni Yamaguchi, Utou’s proprietor.

The noodles are made fresh daily at a facility that provides employment support for people with disabilities. Yamaguchi says the shop serves to draw attention to the social responsibility aspect of providing opportunities for disabled people to earn a living.

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  • The Yomiuri Shimbun

    Hidekuni Yamaguchi talks about the varieties of sake served at Sake Udon Utou.

Utou’s specialties are a thick chicken broth udon and simple chicken broth udon, both made with Aomori shamo rock chickens raised in Aomori Prefecture.

The thick broth type is ¥750 before tax, while the simple type is ¥600. As the name suggests, the thick type is served with a hearty broth that goes well with flat udon noodles.

A whole shamo rock chicken is used to cook the thick broth, while the simple broth is made with a chicken carcass and vegetables, giving it a light taste. Both are served with a side of chicken tempura.

Utou also offers unique Western- and Japanese-style udon dishes, and at night serves Japanese sake and domestic wines with various side dishes.

Lunch sets start at ¥700 before tax.

The shop is named after the utou, an aquatic bird of the Alcidae family that lives in northern Japan.

“Utou families are said to have a strong affection for each other. We cherish our customers and hope they’ll love our shop and our dishes,” Yamaguchi said with a smile.

Sake Udon Utou

Open: 11:30 a.m.-3 p.m.; 5 p.m.-11 p.m. (10 p.m. on holidays).

Closed: Sundays

Address: 1-3-15 Kamisugi, Aoba Ward, Sendai

Tel: (022) 399-7655

No English menu available.

Credit cards accepted.

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