Cafe Sanuki serves up a vast array of Japanese udon

Yaki (stir fry) udon and, top, pork belly bao at Cafe Sanuki.
Miranda Alam/ Special to the Weekly

You could call udon ramen’s less-famous cousin, especially in Las Vegas. Even celebrated LA export Marugame Monzo closed its doors here in April. So when Cafe Sanuki opened in Chinatown late last year, mere blocks from where Monzo had operated, it needed something extra to stand out on Spring Mountain.

Sanuki’s cafeteria-style concept does just that. The process is more do-it-yourself than what most Japanese restaurants provide—a server won’t come to your table to take your order­­—but the fast-casual space serves up legit, heart-warming food at a very affordable price.

The large, open dining space is filled with hanging wooden lanterns, natural bamboo finishes and Japanese memorabilia. Plastic molds of Sanuki’s many udon dishes sit in a large display case near the door, and a full menu awaits around the corner.

If you’re not familiar with udon, the wheat noodles are far thicker than their ramen counterparts, deliver a pleasantly gentle chew and are typically served in a hot or cold broth made with dashi (seasoned fish stock). Before digging into them, start with Sanuki’s pork belly bao—thick pieces of tender and crispy pork belly sandwiched between a steamed bun.

If you’re having trouble deciding between niku beef udon ($7), made with shredded beef brisket and green onions, or the traditional kake udon ($6) with fish cake, try both with nabiyaki udon ($8), a serving large enough for two that fuses both options and adds a giant tempura shrimp and soft-boiled egg for good measure.

Other bowls include Japanese/Italian fusion options like carbonara udon ($9), clam udon ($9) and a vegetarian udon in tomato-basil sauce ($7). Return often to try them all.

Cafe Sanuki 4821 Spring Mountain Road #G, 702-331-9860. Sunday-Thursday, 11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m., 5:30-9:30 p.m.; Saturday-Sunday, 11:30-3 p.m., 5:30-10 p.m.

Tags: Dining
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