Udon Maruka, Tokyo
Overall Rating: 4/5
Go: If you love chewy, slippery strands of perfectly cooked Sanuki udon. Usually ramen and soba get all noodle love in Japan, but udon is an unsung hero. You’ll feel perfectly zen slurping on noods – all your troubles will melt away. Bonus, Maruka is Michelin Bib Gourmand rated so you know you’re in good hands. This is definitely one of the best udons in Tokyo.
Order: First up, are you feeling hot or cold udon? Cold features the texture of the noodle more while hot is warm and comforting. Both are excellent. If you want a simple classic bowl, go for the kake udon, freshly cut and cooked udon in a rich and flavorful dashi. Niku udon is a good bet if you like tender, marbled beef and hot soup with your udon. If you’re looking for soupless, try the kamatama, hot udon with seasoned soy, a raw egg and green onions; it’s the udon equivalent of tamago kake gohan. Whatever your udon order, don’t forget a tempura side. The kashiwa-ten (chicken tempura) is particularly good and they’re known for their chikuwa-ten, a long hollow tube of fish sausage. They have the usual suspects like ebi/prawn and yasai/mixed veggies as well.
Feel: Your trip to Maruka will most likely begin with a line, but it moves quickly – the process streamlined. Once you get close to the front of the line, you’ll be handed a menu so you can decide and order. When you get inside, they’ll have a spot waiting for you. The room is steamy and fun with long communal tables, a counter, and a couple of small tables. Your udon and sides will come on a tray and you’re expected to eat and then leave. Photos are frowned upon, but if you snap one quickly and unobtrusively, they probably won’t scold you. Fast, functional, but oh-so-delicious.
Details: Open Monday to Friday from 11 am – 7:30 pm and Saturday from 11 am to 2:30 pm, or until they run out of noodles. Closed Sundays and holidays. The main menu is in Japanese but there’s a board listing the basic offerings in English. The closest station is Jinbocho, exit A5. 3-16-1 Kanda-Ogawamachi, Chiyoda-ku Tokyo