Reopened borders and a favourable exchange rate—there’s never been a better time to return to Japan, and here are seven best restaurant in Tokyo for cheap tempura udon to reacclimatise yourself with the country.
What we know of as udon in Singapore is a style called Sanuki udon. Hailing from Sanuki province in Kagawa Prefecture, the wheat noodles are characterised by their flat edges and boxy shape that is firm and chewy. For the hot broth, it utilises an assortment of bonito flakes, dried anchovies and sardines, and kelp to develop a deep umami profile. Vegetable and seafood tempura is a common addition to the meal, which can be dunked in the broth for more flavour.
For this guide, we’re keeping it under 2,000 yen, which is currently equivalent to around S$20. These spots are also scattered around the metropolitan Tokyo area, which means a good bowl is never far. Read on for more.
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7 best restaurants in Tokyo for cheap tempura udon
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This Michelin Guide Bib Gourmand noodle joint does sanuki udon a little differently by offering a softer, fluffier version that still remains chewy. The dashi stock is enriched with ingredients like dried fish and kelp from Kagawa Prefecture, and the restaurant teamed up with two-Michelin star restaurant Ginza Shinohara to serve chicken, fishcake and soft-boiled egg tempura.
Kamatake Udon was founded in 2003 by Takeshi Kida, who expanded from his first store in Osaka to multiple branches in Tokyo. The restaurant makes its noodles and tempura from scratch every day, and is popular for its Chikutamaten Bukkake Udon, which brings together thick, firm noodles under fishcake and soft-boiled egg tempura.
If you are visiting Akihabara, make a slight detour to Kamayoshi. Located just south of the the manga and electronics district, the store combines the chewy sanuki udon style with the delicate soup from hakata udon, which is prepared with dashi, light soy sauce, dried fish, and kelp. Tempura made with prawn, eggplant, lotus root, and soft-boiled egg are freshly fried every day.
A short walk east from Tokyo Tower is Moriya. They hand knead their udon daily using water that is put through a purifier and softener, and use a blend of flour coming from a Kagawa Prefecture miller. Salt and water in the flour is adjusted according to the climate, and the dough is rested to develop a springy, chewy texture. The vegetable and prawn tempura, which is offered only during lunch, is cooked using canola oil in a machine called Dr.Fry, a fryer that uses radio waves to reduce the oiliness and produce a light, flavourful dish.
Located west of the hip Daikanyama district, Muginbo’s popular burdock fried tempura udon uses Rishiri kelp from Hokkaido to make the savoury broth, along with bonito shavings and dried fish. The noodles are made with salt from Miyakojima, the largest island in Okinawa Prefecture, which gives it a savoury, chewy texture that complements the crunchy vegetable.
If Moriya is full, there is Udon Jinza a couple of blocks away. They make the noodles using flour from Yoshihara Shokuhin, a long-established miller in Kagawa Prefecture, and change the amount of salt and water needed according to Tokyo’s climate. Kagawa soy sauce, sugar, and other ingredients are also used in the soup, while their pork comes from craft pork producer Hayashi SPF from Chiba. The tempura selection is limited – either chicken, chikuwa (fishcake), or egg, but they are delicately battered and fresh.
This restaurant chain prides itself on offering sanuki udon that is springy and chewy, which they achieve by using a blend of various wheats that is fermented overnight before serving. Soup versions come with a dashi stock made with kelp, bonito, and three types of fish, as well as soy sauce from Kagawa Prefecture, and they offer house creations like whipped cream cheese udon dusted with hojicha. Enjoy it with freshly fried tempura from chicken to soft-boiled egg.