Cool Slurps: TsuruTonTan in Waikīkī Has 7 Chill Noodle Bowls and We’re All About This One
Welcome to a cold noodle lover's happy place.
We are sweltering—I’m talking wear-your-bathing-suit-everywhere level hot. During the mega-muggy season, I know I’m not alone in looking for chill dishes to quell my rising body temperature. Cold soba is already on repeat in my playlist, but I’m looking to expand my cold noodle repertoire. So when I see that TsuruTonTan’s happy hour menu (11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 4:30 to 5:30 p.m.) lists dishes like roasted truffle maitake mushrooms, wagyu nigiri, dozens of hot udon preparations and—prepare yourself—seven different cold udon options, I’m there the next day. At the top of my list to try is the Hiyashi Uni Udon (naturally, I intend on trying them all eventually) but the day I go they’re out of uni (sad face). So I ask the server which is their fave and they point me right to the Mentai Kamatama. Say it with me: mentai kamatama. What is it? We’re about to find out.
You have a choice of skinny or fat udon noodle, I go with the skinny. As they say, you are what you eat.
The mentai kamatama turns out to be a perfectly swirled nest of house-made udon noodles glistening with creamy mentaiko cod roe and adorned with a slow-cooked egg, tenkasu (tempura flakes), green onion and a round scoop of more mentaiko. I take a moment to appreciate its specialness before breaking into the egg, its yolk dripping into all the right crevices. I give the bowl a thorough mix and dig in. The skinny udon noodles are easy to pick up and have some edges, creating a variance in the bouncy texture and serving up a formidable chew throughout. The cool sauce grabs on nicely to the noodles, the popping mentaiko migrating through a just-creamy-enough sauce that balances a slight sweetness with the briny cod roe, all made even thicker and more buttery by the egg yolk. Brightness from the green onion contrasts with the fried tenkasu, adding a fun and decadent touch. Each refreshing bite makes my soul smile. Pro tip: If you come for lunch you can get your cold noodle as a set, and for the same price you get the daily featured donburi for free!
$21 ($18 during happy hour)