The weather is warming up, let's have soup.
No, seriously. I can't be the only one who has been stricken with a spring cold. And when you get sick, there is nothing better than soup.
There are two paths you can take when trying to eat your way out of a head cold. You can attack your ailment and try to make it flee your system with wave upon wave of fiery delights; pouring additional chili oil into a lip-numbingly spicy bowl of hot and sour soup has served me well on many occasions.
Alternatively, you can opt for something soothing. Thankfully, one of the world's most soothing and comforting soups is available at a little Japanese restaurant in Guilderland.
And the tanuki udon at Sushi Tei isn't just good for those who are under the weather; it's just plain good.
Sushi Tei is not a flashy place. It's easy to miss, given its location in a strip mall on the south side of Western Avenue. Even if you see the sign, you may not see the restaurant. That's because it is off the street, down the west side of the strip.
Once you figure that part out, it's hard to miss. The red sushi lanterns are the big giveaway. But those lanterns closely align to the footprint of the restaurant. It's a small place, not much wider than two parking spots. The sushi bar is in the back, with some tables along each of the sidewalls.
There are no communal teppanyaki tables. Nobody is making flaming volcanoes or throwing food into your mouth. And there is no Thai food. If you want an egg roll, you are out of luck.
Instead the menu is keenly focused on simple* and comforting Japanese foods. Within this context the Tanuki Udon fits perfectly.
For those unfamiliar with tenkasu, it is simply little bits of fried tempura batter. Think of this magnificent soup ingredient like croutons: Silky, rich and slippery croutons. They don't break up in the broth but rather hold their form, and add an extra bit of fun to an already impossibly fun noodle soup. Because this is udon.
Udon must be the king of all noodles. It's just so damn big. And that makes it delightful to eat. It's a mouth-filling, toothsome, slurpy good time. Sure, it's little more than refined white flour, and perhaps it is the nutritional equivalent to candy. But to me it brings even more pleasure.
Even when I'm feeling in the dumps.
Served by its side is the classic condement of shichimi togarashi, which is a blend of orange peel, black, white and toasted sesame seeds, cayenne, ginger, Szechuan pepper and nori. So if you'd like to give it a bit more zing, that's entirely in your hands.
And the whole thing won't even set you back $10.
Oh, and just to up the ante, this was just one of the noodle soups that helped me through my cold. I also leaned upon the pho at Van's in Albany. You know what? Van's pho is great, but the tanuki udon at Sushi Tei is better.
* The one notable exception is their list of novelty sushi rolls, which this market seems to demand.
Daniel B. is the proprietor of the Fussy Little Blog.
1800 Western Ave
Guilderland, NY 12203
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