Let’s find out if this Tokyo restaurant is a foreign tourist trap or a place that’s truly worth visiting.

The other day, our reporter Seiji Nakazawa went on a journey to Asakusa to give us his verdict on a restaurant that overseas users had been raving about on Reddit.

The discussion opened his eyes to another place in Tokyo that had become a hot topic on Reddit, and this time it was an udon noodle restaurant in Harajuku called Menchirashi.

▼ Seiji had never heard of Menchirashi, despite having visited the area a zillion times since he was a young lad.

Never one to let a restaurant recommendation pass him by, Seiji immediately hopped on a train to Harajuku to find the store, which was reputed to serve up a mouthwatering carbonara udon.

Before arriving, Seiji had assumed that a restaurant popular with tourists would be located along Takeshita Street, Harajuku’s main tourist attraction. However, upon looking at Google Maps, he was surprised to find that it appeared to be located closer to Shibuya, away from the main hub of Harajuku and in an area where a lot of fashion brands are situated.

Following the directions on his phone, Seiji stopped to check he was heading the right way when he saw he was meant to walk down a narrow thoroughfare between two buildings.

▼ Is this really the right path?

Sure enough, this was a public thoroughfare, and it led him to a quiet residential area that felt like it was thousand miles away from the tall buildings and busy streets of Harajuku.

Walking a little further, the area became more commercial, and it wasn’t long before he arrived at…

▼ …Menchirashi!

Seiji never would have thought there would be an udon restaurant in a place like this, let alone one that’s popular with overseas tourists. As a testament to its popularity, it was only 11:16 a.m., before its official opening time of 11:30, and the place was already full, with diners queuing up outside.

While some of the customers seemed to be foreigners, there were also a lot of Japanese women in their teens and twenties, suggesting this might not be a tourist trap after all.

▼ There’s even a delivery bike for delivering noodles locally.

Peering into the kitchen ,which is visible to diners through glass, Seiji was able to watch as the chefs chopped up fresh ingredients and masterfully cooked the noodles, which are said to be handmade in store.

The menu was extensive, with prices starting at 500 yen (US$3.57) for a simple bowl of hot udon, and going up to 2,000 yen for special dishes like chilled udon served on a bamboo tray, which is only available for parties of three or more.

Seiji didn’t have to wait long to be seated, and when he stepped inside, he saw the store’s interior was much more spacious than it appears from the outside.

▼ He sat at the counter, where each diner has an array of condiments, and waited for his Carbonara Udon (950 yen) to arrive.

Since staff had taken his order while he waited in line, it didn’t take long for his udon to be ready. When it arrived,the delicious scent of cheese wafted gently towards Seiji’s nostrils, and the pecorino romano on top reminded him of a delicate mound of snow.

Next to the snow-like cheese was a cube of butter and three slices of thick-cut bacon. Beneath the bacon was a raw egg, and the whole thing was dusted with a generous serving of black pepper.

Upon first slurp, the flavour of cheese was immediately front-and-centre, in line with the aroma, ticking all of Seiji’s boxes for a good carbonara.

As he continued to eat, Seiji couldn’t help but agree with all the Redditers who had raved about the flavour of this dish. However, some had commented that the noodles had been disappointing as they were overcooked, but Seiji’s noodles were…

▼ …cooked to perfection!

People tend to have different preferences when it comes to noodle texture, but for Seiji these hit the mark between soft and chewy that made them delicious and easy to eat.

By the end of the meal, Seiji came to one conclusion — this was the best carbonara udon he’d ever eaten.

▼ By the end of his meal at around midday, the line had grown outside too.

Seiji has eaten carbonara udon at a number of places, but he says this was the first time for him to eat one with such a perfect taste.

So in the end, Seiji was pleased to find that this noodle restaurant is not a tourist trap. The prices are reasonable, the staff are experienced, and the food is high-quality and made with care and attention to detail. The only problem is its popularity means you may have to wait a while to get in, so we recommend you arrive at around 11 a.m. to avoid a long wait.

If you do have to wait, though, it’ll be worth it, because like the nearby Gonpachi Nori-Temaki sushi restaurant, this is definitely a place worth visiting!

Restaurant information
Menchirashi / 麺散
Address: Tokyo-to, Shibuya-ku, Jingumae 6-13-7
Open 11:30 a.m.-9:30 p.m. (Wed-Mon), 11:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. (Tue)

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