Enjoy Udon in Tokyo! 7 Recommended Udon Restaurants!

Enjoy Udon in Tokyo! 7 Recommended Udon Restaurants!

Japanese cuisine fanatics know the two principal types of noodle said to be unique to our islands: soba and udon. Though the origins of these noodles is open to some historical debate, it is likely that they have been around in one form or another for as long as flour milling in Japan.

Whereas soba noodles are made from buckwheat, udon is produced from wheat flour and is typically thicker and softer with a flavour not unlike an English dumpling.

As milling technology spread throughout Japan, many local varieties of udon were born. For example, inaniwa udon from Akita prefecture is quite thin, while himokawa udon from Gunma prefecture is very flat and broad. Every region of Japan has its own unique take on the udon noodle.

As with most Japanese noodles, udon is served chilled in the summer and hot in the winter. In its simplest form, kake udon, it is served in a light broth of soy, dashi and mirin and topped with thinly sliced leek. Other toppings will reflect seasonal or local produce and can include deep fried shrimp and/or vegetable tempura, aburaage (deep fried tofu pockets) or thinly sliced kamaboko (sometimes called Japanese fish cake).

For visitors to Tokyo, there are plenty of restaurants serving good udon, and some of these are specialist udon noodle shops. Here is my list of seven well known udon restaurants you might like to try, perhaps for lunch on a busy day sightseeing.



 

Enjoy Udon in Tokyo! 7 Recommended Udon Restaurants!

 

1. Sanuki Udon Nenotsu

Close to Nezu shrine, Nenotsu serves handmade sanuki style udon noodles. Sanuki udon is a thicker style noodle popular in Kagawa prefecture, Shikoku.

 

2. Taniya

Just 2 minutes walk from Suitengumae station, Taniya is another shop serving handmade sanuki style udon. What make it different is the broth which is, unusually, made from dried sardine stock.

 

3. Udon Kokuwagata

For a very traditional standing bar (tachigui) experience, Kokuwagata offers fine handmade sanuki udon and deliciously crisp tempura. Close to Hongosanchome station in the Tokyo University district.

 

4. Sato Yosuke

Serving handmade inaniwa udon of Akita, this high quality restaurant can be found on the 1st floor of the Deihonkan in Ginza. However, it can be extremely busy, especially at lunchtime, so you may have to wait for a table. Check out their website in English and call to make a reservation if time is pressing.

 

5. Nanakura

Another inaniwa udon shop, Nanakura has been in operation for over 30 years and is very popular. Right in front of Shinbashi station, this basement shop specialises in cold noodles with a hot sesame katsuobushi dipping broth, minced duck and seasonal vegatables.

 

6. Fuji Yoshida Udon Marunaga

About a 5 minute walk west of Togoshi Ginza station, Marunaga serves the very thick Fuji Yoshida udon, a variety common in Yamanashi prefecture and around Mt Fuji. It is a hearty and dense style udon served in a hot or cold broth with cabbage and chicken.

 

7. Misonikomin

Close to Hongosanchome station in the Tokyo University district, Misonikomin serves Nagoya style flat udon, also known for the hearty hatcho miso broth they are traditionally served with.

 

Conclusion

Of course, this is just a small selection of shops that I know, but there are many many more to enjoy in Tokyo. In general, udon, as with most Japanese noodles, is lunch fare and few shops operate any kind of dress code. It is also true that noodle shops can be very busy and patrons may have to wait in line for a table or space at the counter. Smaller shops are likely to be cash only.

Should you find yourself off the beaten track and considering an udon shop not on my list or any other, look at how tidy the shop and its staff looks as this will give an indication of the owner’s pride in his establishment. Then look at the length of the queue; the more people are waiting for a seat, the better the food is likely to be.

Naturally, there are cheaper and more widely available alternatives, restaurant chains such as Sanuki Udon Hanamaru, Marugame Seimen, Nakau, or Tenya (which though a tempura chain, also serves good udon noodles), and these should not be dismissed just because they are popular. They might not be ideal venues for dinner dates, but for a quick, cheap and filling lunch, they cannot be beaten.

Whichever Tokyo udon shop you visit and style of udon you try, I am sure you will find this uniquely Japanese noodle delicious and satisfying. Happy eating!

 

Enjoy Udon in Tokyo! 7 Recommended Udon Restaurants!

1. Sanuki Udon Nenotsu
2. Taniya
3. Udon Kokuwagata
4. Sato Yosuke
5. Nanakura
6. Fuji Yoshida Udon Marunaga
7. Misonikomin