New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

Sanuki Udon brings the rich flavor of Japanese udon close to campus

This assembly line-style udon restaurant, the first of its kind in New York City, offers authentic noodle dishes just across from the Stern School of Business.
Matt Petres
Sanuki Udon is located just across from the Stern School of Business. (Matt Petres for WSN)

The aroma of freshly fried tempura — accompanied by a sense of urgency — fills the air as NYU students hastily form a line and employees rapidly prepare orders. Shuffling down the line, students push their trays along a sleek wooden counter, careful not to knock over their bowls of soup. The scene mimics a cafeteria, but rather than a dining hall, it takes place at NYU’s newest hotspot restaurant.

Sanuki Udon, a traditional Japanese udon noodle restaurant, opened on Jan. 22  just across from Stern and it just might be your new go-to lunch spot. Located at the corner spot of Greene Street and West Fourth Street, the restaurant’s warm yellow lighting gives it the cozy atmosphere typical of noodle houses in Japan. 

For maximum efficiency, it is also divided into a dining area and a cafeteria-style ordering area, the first of its kind for an udon noodle shop in New York City. Co-owner and Stern alum Bill Wang implemented this idea to appeal to the NYU student body, resulting in a constant stream of student customers in its first three months. 

“We just knew we wanted to be near students because we thought [Sanuki] was a fast, efficient concept that would complement classes coming on and off,” Wang said. 

As a Stern alum, Wang is enjoying the “full-circle moment” of owning a restaurant across the street from his former school. 

Sanuki’s other co-owner, Sheng Has Hung, who is from Taiwan and is a longtime lover of udon, owned and operated an udon restaurant in Taiwan for over 15 years. He traveled to Japan every year to study and refine his cooking technique. Through a restaurant convention in Japan, he met Wang, and they decided to bring their knowledge of noodles to New York City.

“I love udon noodles,” Hung said. “So I want to do it right.”

A tray with pieces of fried chicken. In front of the tray there are two labels, “Tender chicken Breast” and “Chicken Karaage.”
(Matt Petres for WSN)

Sanuki’s menu offers a variety of Japanese classics, including many vegetarian options, and is divided into three categories: udon, rice and tempura. Among the most popular items are the beef udon, shrimp tempura and chicken karaage, which is a Japanese fried chicken. The noodles are accompanied with large pieces of beef, green onions and sliced carrots, all served in a flavorful warm broth. As for the tempura, the crunchy battered shrimp is deep-fried and golden brown and the tender fried chicken is delightfully crisp yet juicy.

“All I did was make sure that the students and guests here in New York get to eat the true Japanese flavors,” Hung said. “I’ve had a lot of Japanese guests say that the food touches them and that it’s very much like theirs back home, which makes me very happy.”

Most of the restaurant’s entrées range from $11 to $17, while one piece of tempura costs about $2 to $3.

“We want to restore the true flavor of the ingredients at ordinary prices,” Hung said.

Hung did take the New Yorker palate into account when crafting the menu, incorporating more beef and fried chicken to appeal to local preferences while prioritizing traditional Japanese flavors. Nevertheless, he still sought to preserve authentic Japanese flavors and quality ingredients — one of the restaurant’s initial challenges.

“I tried to find local ingredients in New York that could replace the Japanese flavors but couldn’t find them,” he said. “None of the choices I tried restored the taste of the true udon noodles.”

As a result, Hung opted to import some ingredients instead. Notably, Sanuki makes their own udon noodles with wheat flour from Kagawa, Japan. Their soy sauce, which is notably thick and less salty compared to store-bought versions, is imported from Kansai, Japan. 

“I heard very early on that the students of NYU are outstanding, and it is true after meeting them,” Hung said. “They are all very disciplined and polite.”

Open daily from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., Sanuki’s convenient setup and authentic recipes are already making waves in the campus dining scene. 

“We didn’t think it would be this successful this fast,” Wang said. “It exceeded all our expectations.”

Contact Lauren Ng and Jiayang Chen at [email protected].

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About the Contributor
Matt Petres, Photo Editor
Matt Petres is a first-year studying Economics. He is from Chicago, Illinois and likes to bike and kayak. You can contact him on Instagram @matt.petres

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