You’re in a Japanese restaurant. The smell of dashi and seaweed is effervescent in the air, forming a cloud that cushions the clatter from the kitchen and the chorus of chopsticks tinkling against lacquered bowls.
A waiter comes by, gently placing a piping hot noodle dish before you. Chopped scallions and whorls of pork swim atop soy-coloured broth, whorls of noodles peeking through the steam that is beginning to kiss your nearing face.
If you saw that in your mind’s eye, chances are you imagined a bowlful of ramen. Ramen’s ubiquitousness as the Japanese noodle dish is a reputation well-earned, but we’re here to challenge you a little today and make you reckon with udon.
Udon suffers from middle child syndrome in the family tree of Japanese noodle dishes, sandwiched between ramen and soba. It is as variegated as its siblings, with over 20 different styles of cooking that vary across prefectures.
While the best udon eating experiences are undeniably found in its native land, the abundance of Japanese restaurants with udon specialities in Singapore allows you to sample your way through the works on our home turf.
Let us bring you through our take on where to find the best udon in Singapore.
Pan Pacific Singapore’s Japanese restaurant serves up multiple renditions of udon noodles, all housemade. From classics like tempura udon, to versions unique to a prefecture, like thin Inaniwa udon noodles from Akita, Keyaki is a fantastic option to enjoy udon noodles in fine dining setting.
A longstanding local favourite, Tamoya Udon, is the go-to for many when it comes to udon in Singapore. Hailing from the Kagawa prefecture, which is famous for its Sanuki udon noodles, Tamoya is known across the world as an award-winning noodle brand in Japan as well. The noodles are handmade with three types of flour, and served in a customisable fashion, akin to udon eateries in Japan.
Inaniwa udon is incredibly painstaking to make, giving it the status of a delicacy. Each batch takes around four days to perfect, because it is handcrafted from scratch, and it takes serious skill to make udon noodles so delicately thin.
Inaniwa Yosuke is where that speciality shines in Singapore. Hailing from Akita, where its parent outpost has stood for 150 years, this humble restaurant serves its famous silky udon noodles in hot and cold variants.
Tsuru-koshi has been around in Singapore for years, beginning with one outlet in Ngee Ann City, before establishing another in Millenia Walk. Apart from umami-rich bowls of tempura, kitsune and beef udon, Tsuru-koshi also serves up limited-edition takes on the Japanese dish — laksa udon for National Day, for instance.
Japan’s most famous chain udon eatery arrives in Singapore, much to the delight of those who frequent it yonder. Famous for its handmade Sanuki-style udon dishes, where chewy noodles sit in a broth made from niboshi (dried sardines), Marugame Udon in Singapore also brings with it an army of unique options, including a spicy miso and a beef curry udon.