A taste test so strange there’s only one man for the job!

Out of Japan’s three favorite types of noodles, ramen, soba, and udon, udon is generally the simplest. Ramen is the most wide open in terms of broths and seasonings, and soba gets some extra flavor by nature of the buckwheat content of the noodles themselves. Udon, though, usually plays it safe with mild wheat noodles and a simple broth seasoned with bonito stock.

Tsuru Ton Tan Udon Noodle Basserie, though, is an exception. It’s a special branch of the Osaka-based udon chain Tsuru Ton Tan that’s located in downtown Tokyo’s Shibuya neighborhood, and they do things very differently from a typical udon joint that may only have a half-dozen items on the menu.

Tsuru Ton Tan Udon Noodle Basserie has a gigantic array of udon options. Aside from the orthodox broth, you can get udon with such unique broths as cream, green curry, mapo tofu, tomato, or plum gelatin.

They’ve also got a large selection of sushi and izakaya pub side dishes, both unusual for an udon restaurant, as our ace reporter, Mr. Sato, learned on his visit on a recent weekday afternoon.

They even have kaiseki-style multi-course meals, with two of those courses being different kinds of udon.

Mr. Sato, is always up for a new eating experience, but as extraordinary an individual as he is, he only has one stomach, so he carefully considered each and every item on the menu before finally deciding on the popcorn shrimp udon. And no, we don’t mean that the udon was topped with little breaded “popcorn shrimp”…

we mean that the toppings were popcorn and shrimp!

This isn’t at all a common way to prepare udon, and even Mr. Sato, a veteran of the stranger things you can find in Japan, was momentarily stunned by the culinary creativity.

His shocked silence was further extended by just how huge the portion, and the tableware for it, were.

This isn’t an extra-large portion, either. It’s the standard serving size of the 1,680-yen (US$12.40) Seared Butter Soy Sauce Cream Udon with Shrimp and Corn that Mr. Sato ordered, to which he added a 380-yen side of kakiage (mixed tempura)-topped rice.

As mentioned above Tsuru Ton Tan started out in Osaka, where they tend to like their udon noodles a little softer than the firmer udon that’s come into nationwide vogue in recent years. It had actually been some time since Mr. Sato had eaten Osaka-style udon, but that actually made it feel novel once again, He also felt like softer noodles make for a better pairing with a heavier broth, like the saucy cream broth in his order.

Flavor-wise it wasn’t bad, but there is one problem, which is that aside from the noodles themselves, there wasn’t anything particularly udon-like in the bowl. Even the boiled shrimp are unusual, since when udon does come with shrimp, the’re usually the tempura kind. So really, this ended up feeling arguably more like a pasta dish than a bowl of udon, and especially if you prefer your udon noodles on the firm side, this might not scratch your udon itch. On the other hand, it’s definitely the sort of meal you can’t get anywhere else, and judging from the huge line of people waiting to get into the restaurant that Mr. Sato passed by on his way out…

…Tsuru Ton Tan Udon Noodle Basserie creative offerings have a lot of people curious to try them for themselves.

Restaurant information
Tsuru Ton Tan Udon Noodle Basserie
Address: Tokyo-to, Shibuya-ku, Shibuya 2-24-12, Shibuya Scramble Square 13th floor
東京都渋谷区渋谷2丁目24-12 渋谷スクランブルスクエア13階
Open 11 a.m.-11 p.m.

Photos © SoraNews24
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