Roppongi Tsurutontan Udon

Tsurutontan tomato udon

Tomato udon with tomato sorbet at Tsurutontan

In summer at home we often make chilled somen noodles, sometimes topped with tomatoes. It’s a breeze to whip together, especially if you have tsuyu, the soy-based sauce noodles. Udon specialty restaurant Tsurutonten in Roppongi has a chilled tomato udon that is served with tomato sorbet. This is a great dish on a hot summer day, rich in umami. It is presented in a massive red bowl. Had the bowl been smaller I would have picked it up to slurp up what little broth was left in the bowl. Diners have the option of thin or regular udon noodles. In the photo above are the thin noodles. The seasonal menu is big and the next one on my list to try is the grilled corn udon. Our server said the summer menu will run through September 20th.

Tsurutonten also has branches in Shinjuku (Kabukicho 2-26-3), Marunouchi (Marunouchi 2-7-3, Tokia Bldg. B1), and at Haneda Airport.

 

Tsurutonten つるとんたん

Minato-ku, Roppongi 3-14-12

Tsurumaru Udon in Toranomon つるまる饂飩 虎ノ門店

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A hot bowl of thick and chewy flour udon noodles hits the spot any time of day. Starting the day with fast food udon is something I could get used to. Good thing there is not one of these shops in my neighborhood. The standard bowl of noodles with hot broth is only 262 JPY. It’s topped with tenkasu, tempura bits and pieces that are in a bucket next to where you pick up your noodles. I splurged an extra 105 JPY and got the chikuwa tempura, a grilled fish cake that is battered and deep-fried. The broth is hot, so sip until it cools down. The smoky fish broth is light and if I weren’t in a hurry, I would have lingered over it and probably would have drunk most of it up.

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These fast-food udon shops are throughout Tokyo and are a bargain, any time of day. This shop, Tsurumaru, is brightly lit and there is a large communal table in the middle of the shop and several counters that face the wall. Most of the customers are solo diners and the meals are fast.

The menu is simple. Pick a bowl of udon from the pictures on the wall. Some bowls will come with meat or a raw egg. And, if you want, top up the bowl wit h some tempura vegetables or seafood. You’ll also find rice balls, that but seems a bit much after having a bowl of noodles, doesn’t it?

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If you are visiting Japan and looking for a quick meal, this is one of my recommendations. Save McDonald’s for when you are back home.

Tsurumaru Udon Toranomon-ten

Minato-ku, Toranomon 2-4-1

03-3504-0023

You may also like:

Ten Udon Shops in Tokyo

Nana Udon in Kokubunji 七うどん

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A recent issue of Dancyu magazine featured the hot noodle of the moment, udonUdon noodles are thick flour noodles. Restaurants are popping up around Tokyo and it’s not unusual to see long lines forming at lunchtime. Many of these shops have been around for a long time are seeing a new appreciation for these hearty noodles. In the Dancyu magazine I was thrilled to see a restaurant in our neighborhood of Kokubunji. It’s about a 15-minute walk from Kokubunji station. If you are ever near Kokubunji, it’s a good shop to have on your radar.

My first time there I asked the proprietress her recommendation and she suggested going with the standard inaka udon. She said that all of the udon comes with the tempura side dish. And, she did warn me that the portions are generous, echoing what Dancyu had also mentioned in their article. The photo above is the inaka udon which comes with a flavorful dipping sauce.

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The niku-jiru udon is a meaty soy broth with beef and onions and my favorite.

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Creamy sesame dipping sauce with udon and kaki-agé tempura, a melange of vegetables chopped up and deep-fried in a cake, and kabocha tempura. This is the small “sho” portion, for a bargain 600 JPY.

This area of Tokyo is known for Musashino udon which is a dark-colored udon that is very chewy. Nana does not serve the Musashino udon.  The noodles are softer yet still have a nice texture.

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The entrance, which is hard to see from the street.

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I had a hard time finding Nana as not only is it in a residential area, it’s a home. This is the exterior of Nana, and no, there are no signs signifying the restaurant.

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Actually, once I saw all of the bicycles parked in the driveway, I knew this must be it.

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The interior. Very simple, basically the living room of the home. This was a very early lunch, but it filled up quickly after we were seated. The husband and wife team are very kind. Portions of udon are very large so I suggest going for the smaller size. If you can’t finish your bowl of noodles you can put them in a plastic bag to take home.

Nana Udon XOn our second visit the wife gave us a bag of kombu Tsukudani to take home with us. She had warned us that it was spicy as it is made with tōgarashi, dried red chili peppers. We loved it over a bowl of steaming rice.

The shop’s great name is “Foot Stomped Udon” as the noodles are traditionally stomped by feet.

Ashi Uchi Udon Dokoro Nana 足打ちうどん処七

Tokyo-to, Kokubunji-shi, Honda 5-28-2 東京都国分寺市本多5-28-2

042-328-1002

Saturday – Sunday 11:00~14:00 (or until sold out)

Monday – Friday 11:30~14:00

Closed Tuesday, Wednesday, and each month on the 30th and 31st

Google Map

Sanukiya – Kaiseki Udonya and Saké

Tokyo is filled with a wide variety of izakaya, places with food and saké. Recently I got together with friends, two editors from a popular food magazine, DANCYU, and a famous saké and shōchū authority for a night out. I was told that we were going to Sanukiya in Kōenji. Sanuki is a region in Japan famous for its udon noodles, not for its saké so I was a bit puzzled. Udon is a noodle that is getting a lot of attention now. So much so that DANCYU did a big spread on it last month. But, what kind of saké were we going to get at an udon shop? I wasn’t expecting much.

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Until we sat down and Atsuko Sando Sensei, the saké authority, said, “Wow, this saké list is not made up of ozeki or sekiwaké (referring to ranks of sumo wrestlers), but these are all yokozuna (the highest rank of sumo wrestlers).” I knew immediately that we were in for a great evening of saké. Just a quick look at the list above, some names jump out right away like Jikon, Kamenoo, and Juuyondai. And, if Sando Sensei was excited, then surely we were in for a treat.

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We started off with a slightly sweet saké. Perfect aperitif to begin the evening with.

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A frizzante Nabéshima Junmaiginjō from Saga prefecture was served with cod milt garnished with truffles and cured Yonezawa wagyū (imagine a cured ham, but made from wagyū).

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One of my favorite pairings was a foie gras chawanmushi (savory custard) and 10-year balsamico with Murayū Hon-nama Seishu. The saké was slightly sweet like wasanbon sugar – ideal for the foie gras and balsamico. A perfect marriage of East and West.

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We took a warm saké, Musubi Tokubetsujunmai Muroka, with kuruma shrimp, kinmédai (splendid alfonsino) and truffle, saba (Pacific mackerel) that was cured in sugar and salt, and sayori (halfbeak) with a squeeze of sudachi citrus and Mongolian salt.

Warming up a saké brings out aromas and textures that may be more subtle in a chilled saké. It also warms you up as you drink, much like gluhwein, hot mulled wine.

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Chef Yasuhiro Kondō who not only knows how to pair saké with food, is also a cookbook author. He is with Muneki Mizutani-san who is a former editor with DANCYU and is now the editor of a very cool new business magazine that is in manga form, Manga PRESIDENT.


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Jūyondai Shichi Tare Nijikkan Junmai Daiginjō was served with a tomato jelly.

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Here we had a creamy nigorizaké paired with Yonézawa wagyū in a yogurt sauce – the two creamy items were an ideal match. The saké on the right is a Kizan kōshu (aged saké) from 1999 – also perfect with the teriyaki Yonézawa wagyū.

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And, finally, the udon noodle course. With chef Kondō’s signature tsuyu dipping broth on the left and a nutty, creamy sesame dipping sauce on the right. His cookbook is based on small bites all made using tsuyuTsuyu can be made from scratch, but most homes keep a bottle of it at home for last minute udon or soba meals. Chef Kondō’s is a soy-based sauce that is made with kombu (a sea vegetable rich in natural umami), niboshi (dried sardines), bushi (dried and smoked fish flakes from both Pacific mackerel and skipjack tuna), and sugar. This flavorful sauce can be used for a wide variety of dishes, hence Chef Kondō’s cookbook.

Sanukiya 11And closing off the evening with Jikon Junmai Ginjō from Mie prefecture. This saké is subtle and elegant while still having a richness to it – perfect for the udon noodles. Sando Sensei is playing it up with Saito-san, also an editor at DANCYU. Sando Sensei has written several books.

While this was not all that we had this evening, it is the highlights of a great night out in Tokyo. I highly recommend Sanukiya in Kōenji. It’s a short trip from Shinjuku. No English.

Kōenji Sanukiya

Sugnami-ku, Kōenji Minami 4-38-7

Phone: 03-3314-4488

18:00 – 22:30 (last order)

closed Sundays

Cheap Eats – Taniya Udon in Ningyocho 人形町の谷や

Udon is a dish we often eat at home for lunch. Udon noodles are sold in the supermarket as dried noodles that need to be boiled and rehydrated or fresh (and also frozen) that just needs to be blanched in hot water. While both of these versions are fine for a simple meal at home, there is nothing that compares to freshly made udon noodles at a restaurant that also makes an excellent broth that is served with the noodles.

Taniya in the historic district of Ningyocho is one of these places. Walking by on the street that leads up to the famous Suitengumae shrine it is hard to miss the handsome chef in the window rolling out the udon dough and then cutting it with a large knife. The style of udon noodles here are from the Sanuki region of Kagawa prefecture.

Tempura udon is one of my favorites. Seasonal vegetables such as kabocha, mushrooms, and lotus root are deep-fried in a thin tempura batter with a bowl of hot noodles. This portion size, the medium, was actually too much for lunch. Next time I go back I’ll order the smaller size.

The staff had recommended this bukkake udon topped with grated yamaimo, shrimp tempura, and a tempura-fried egg with a soft yolk inside. When the egg is broken in the middle the yolk spills out onto the rest of the dish. My friends loved this dish.

Taniya blog (with photos of their seasonal udon dishes). At the moment, the two seasonal dishes are a hot bowl of noodles topped with three types of mushrooms and a tsuke-udon where the noodles are dipped in a meaty “nikujiru” broth.

Tani-san cutting the udon dough into long, thick noodles.

Taniya 谷や

Chuo-ku, Nihonbashi Ningyocho 2-15-17

03-5695-3060

The menu at Taniya.

Taniya blog (with photos of their seasonal udon dishes).

Here are tips to demystifying an udon menu.

List of ten popular udon restaurants in Tokyo.

Demystifying an Udon Menu

How do you like your noodles? Hot or cold? What temperature do you want the broth? Or, perhaps no broth at all? The texture of the noodle changes with the temperature. The umami changes depending on the type of broth or dipping sauce. While some connoisseurs may insist on only eating it a certain way, I suggest ordering what suits your needs that day. If it’s hot outside lean towards dishes like zaru or hiya-hiya. And in winter, go with the standard kake udon.

Here are some Tokyo udon shops you may want to check out.

かけ Kake – the standard hot noodles in a hot broth

ぶっかけ Bukkake – cold noodles with a bit of strong broth, garnished with toppings such as grated daikon, sudachi, and green onions

醤油 Shouyu – cold noodles topped with soy sauce and some garnishes

ざる Zaru – cold noodles served with a small bowl of tsuyu dipping broth (also called tsuyu-dashi)

釜あげ Kama-age – hot udon noodles served in a bowl of hot water and served with a dipping sauce

釜玉 Kama-tama – kama-age noodles that are topped with a raw egg and some soy sauce

The following are based on the temperature of the noodles (the first part) and the temperature of the broth (the second part)

あつあつ Atsu-atsu – hot noodles in a hot broth; basically a kake-udon

ひやあつ Hiya-atsu – cold noodles in a hot broth

ひやひや Hiya-hiya – cold noodles in a cold broth

Ten Udon Shops in Tokyo

Udon noodles are everywhere I look. TV programs, food magazines, and newspapers are all covering the different types of udon noodles, ways of eating it, and where to go in Tokyo.

My fall back restaurant has always been the chain store Hanamaru. Mainly because it was close to where I was working, it’s cheap, and very good for the price. The menu changes throughout the year offering seasonal specialties. At home we usually have dried udon noodles in our pantry for a last minute meal or a light snack. If we are making a nabe (hot pot) we’ll get some frozen udon noodles to throw in the pot at the end of the meal.

However, now restaurants are making their own udon noodles or serving them as traditionally served in different regions around Japan. Here is a list of ten udon shops worth seeking out in Japan. If the restaurant has a website I’ve included a link. Just click on the restaurant name.

Here are tips to demystifying an udon menu.

1. Sanuki Udon Nenotsu 讃岐饂飩 根の津

Bunkyo-ku, Nezu 1-23-16

03-3822-9015

Handmade noodles. To try very simple noodles order the kama-age udon.

2. Taniya 谷や

Chuo-ku, Nihonbashi Ningyocho 2-15-17

03-5695-3060

Handmade Sanuki udon noodles at this modern restaurant near the Suitengumae temple.

3. Udon Kokuwagata うどん こくわがた

Bunkyo-ku, Hongo 2-39-7

03-5689-2132

Tight quarters at this tachigui standing bar with handmade Sanuki udon noodles.

4. Sato Yosuke 佐藤養助

Chuo-ku, Ginza 6-4-17

03-6215-6211

Inaniwa udon from Akita prefecture are thin noodles. Sato Yosuke is a 7th generation shop in Akita. This Ginza shop has been open since 2006. A modern take on the dish are tsuke-men noodles can be dipped in Italian, French, or Thai curry broths, as well as the traditional soy based broth.

5. Nanakura 七蔵

Minato-ku, Shinbashi 2-20-15, Shinbashi Eki-mae Bldg. 1 Go, 2F

03-3571-5012

In the basement of a building in front of Shinbashi station, this popular 30-year old shop usually has a line of customers at lunch time for the Inaniwa udon. A popular dish is cold noodles served with a hot sesame dipping broth made from katsuobushi broth with minced duck and seasonal ingredients.

6. Fuji Yoshida Udon Marunaga 富士吉田うどん まるなが

Shingawa-ku, Ebara 1-22-4

03-3786-4777

Fuji Yoshida udon noodles are thick and known for having a dense texture.

7. Misonikomin 味噌煮込罠

Bunkyo-ku, Hongo 3-31-15

03-3812-2286

Nagoya udon is famous for using the very hearty Hatcho miso in the broth.

8. Kushi Katsu Kasu Udon Tanaka 串カツかすうどん田中

Meguro-ku, Kami-Meguro 2-21-4

03-6426-8866

Osaka udon is the speciality of this shop with very simple settings.

9. Koko Nagasaki ここ長崎

Toshima-ku, Sugamo 3-38-4

03-6426-2717

Nagasaki udon are thin and light.

10. Sawanoi 澤乃井

Shibuya-ku, Shibuya 1-8-5, Ogawa Bldg. 1F

03-3409-1058

Miyazaki Kama-age udon noodles are the specialty of this shop.