Honolulu’s Japanese Food Guide: Udon
PHOTO: OLIVIER KONING
Thunk-thunk-thunk. The rhythmic fall of Isamu Kubota’s knife tells you the udon you’ve just ordered is being hand-cut into silken strands. Made fresh daily by Yuzu’s proprietor, the udon appears glistening and al dente, as toothsome and bouncy as Tokyo’s most satisfying bowl. Order the spicy sukiyaki beef udon or the cold kakiage udon, which arrives with fried strips of veggies and grated radish, ginger and green onions on the side.
$$, Ala Moana Hotel, main floor, 410 Atkinson Drive, (808) 943-1155
Tsuku Tsuku Tei
Dropped into steaming broth or laid out in ropey bundles ready for dipping, Tsuku Tsuku’s fresh udon showcases the slightly firm texture that makes Sanuki-style noodles Japan’s most popular.
$, 641 Keeaumoku St., (808) 946-6147
Grab a tray, order a bowl and watch as fresh dough is transformed into strands that are cooked and served up—just in time for you to pick up your bowl. At this Japanese mega-chain, it’s cafeteria-style all the way, but the udon is some of the best and cheapest in town.
$, 2310 Kuhio Ave. (watch for a new location downtown), (808) 931-6000
Moiliili, cool night, depths of smoky bonito broth. This granddaddy of Honolulu udon shops—where the udon is made traditionally by stomping on the dough—boasts an udon for any occasion. Hot summer day? Chilled udon salad bright with puckery ume. Feeling in between? Udon stir-fry with spicy beef. Depending on your tastes, the udon here may not be quite firm enough, so you can request that they cook the noodles “hard,” or less.
$$, 1936 S. King St. (808) 947-2211
If you’ve ever stood at a Japanese station, slurping a steaming bowl of udon before the 7:58 to Shinjuku pulls in, that’s exactly the flavor this food truck recreates.
$, Sheridan Street just below King Street, (808) 497-7991