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.

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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.