Ramen has been the must-eat winter soup for long enough. Now the udon noodle — the chewier and plumper cousin to the ramen noodle — is slurping its way into the spotlight. Broth experts across the country are focusing on the chewier noodle at standalone spots and prominently featuring the dish at top-notch restaurants. Here are three spots where udon may bowl you over.
Marukame Udon, Honolulu
Hawaii is lucky to have two locations of this Japanese soup shop specializing in sanuki-style udon (a square-shaped flat edge noodle) that is made in-house with specially designed machines and flour imported from Japan. The very intense noodle-making process keeps the dishes authentic. The soups are prepared in small batches so as not to dilute the flavors of the broth. The menu is simple, boasting 10 variations, from kake udon in traditional broth to zaru udon, cold noodles served with a dipping sauce.
Tsurutontan, New York
Although its first U.S. location hasn’t even opened its doors yet, this Japanese restaurant group has ladled out bowls of udon for more than 25 years in 12 locations across Japan. Instead of focusing on the udon of any one particular region, Tsurutontan offers various renditions from thick to thin along with a variety of broths and accompaniments. If New Yorkers’ penchant for ramen is any indication, it’s likely that this soon-to-open noodle shop — located off Union Square — will have lines out the door from the start.
Although Chicago isn’t yet home to an udon-only shop, the noodles are making their way into hip Japanese establishments and quickly gaining popularity. Chef Mark Hellyar of Momotaro puts his own hearty twist on udon, creating a hearty curry broth with ground heritage-pork curry, futo udon noodles and a little kick from shishito peppers.
Photos courtesy of Tsurutontan, Huge Galdones