Chain store restaurants, for example, “Otafuku” and “Kadocho” for udon; “Chu” and “Minrai” for Chinese; and “Janome” for sushi, have long been familiar to Kanazawans. The interesting thing though, is that, despite the chain restaurant signboards out front, the menu items and seasonings inside these various Kanazawa restaurants can be completely different from others of the same name. Even the famous gyoza at “Ohsho” can be different depending on the location.
A neighbor friend of mine invited me to lunch at Otafuku in Awagasaki. It’s ten minutes by car from the center of Kanazawa heading toward the sea. It’s a little off the beaten track, but it seems to be one of the most popular of the many Otafuku shops in the area. We got there at noon and saw quite a diverse crowd: families with children, many local people, groups of working men on lunch break.
Most everyone was having donburi or udon combos, but I ordered a popular “geso” (squid tentacles) tempura udon and a couple of things separately. My order ended up being way more than I could finish. To exaggerate only slightly, the udon noodles came in a bowl the size of my bathroom sink — maybe twice the usual size! I ate and ate, but it couldn’t seem to make a dent in it. All three of the necessary culinary factors came into play – homemade udon, yes; dashi, wonderful; the tempura itself, perfect – together, delicious! I think those three are what distinguish this Otafuku from the others.