If you’ve been living under a rock this past month, then let me tell you something: the long drive to the south bay for handmade udon is now obsolete. Newly opened next to the always crowded Daikokuya in Little Tokyo is a small restaurant called Marugame Monzo that will satisfy your chewy Japanese noodle needs.
Being in a noodle purist mood, I ordered from the more traditional side of the menu. The bukkake udon may have a chuckle-worthy name, but don’t let that scare you away. It’s one of my favorite ways to have these cold noodles. The freshly made noodles are topped with grated radish, a healthy ladle of chopped green onions, crispy bits of tempura batter, optional grated radish, plenty of shaved bonito, and a small container of soy-based sauce. Drizzle the sauce over the noodles according to your own judgement, sprinkle in some Togarashi, and let the slurping begin.
The noodles were of a satisfying consistency with the perfect balance of just the right amount of chew and smoothness. It’s impressive how uniform each noodle’s thickness is after watching the noodle master roll out the stiff dough by hand. The seats at the bar are the best in the house because you get to watch the noodles get made right in front of you. Considering the noodle master is rolling out the dough every ten minutes or so, there’s no doubt that the ones you’re slurping up from the bowl are fresh.
Because I was extra hungry, I also ordered a side of eggplant tempura and what they called a soft-boiled egg. The tempura was hot right out of the fryer and while I would consider the egg more of a hard-boiled egg, it was still decent.
There may not be anything clearly vegan on the menu, but Will was able to order just the plain udon with noodle-cooking water. It came with grated radish, green onion, and ginger. They even included an empty dipping cup for him to make a sauce in. I suggested he make a sauce with the table soy sauce, grated radish, green onion, and a few spoonfuls of the starchy udon cooking water. That seemed to do the trick.
It’s great to see this new addition to the Little Tokyo neighborhood. Daikokuya has already been losing its luster for me, but now I have another excuse to visit the area. I’m curious to try their more fusion dishes like the uni cream one, but when it’s not something like 90F outside.
329 E. 1st St.
Los Angeles, California 90012