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Aozora Blue

Opened just over a year ago by husband-and-wife team Hirofumi and Yuki Matsui, Aozora Blue is a gorgeously simple restaurant with lovely touches: leather bound menus, winsome tree-trunk stools and a charming cast-iron sign hanging outside the restaurant, made to resemble a bowl of udon. Chef Hirofumi opened his udon restaurant after working in a soba restaurant. The decision to opt for udon was based on that essential ingredient of flour, Yuki tells me. After sampling various types of flour from around the country, the husband and wife decided to embark on turning the wheat grain into udon — which is done in front of the restaurant’s diners. The flour is sourced from many prefectures, including Tottori and Hokkaido, and it’s used to produced two types of udon: house speciality jikaseki arabiki (udon made from coarsely ground flour), which, were it not for its girth, looks closer to a soba noodle, and a so-called blend noodle (made from a mixture of various wheat flours) that is much closer in appearance to standard white udon.