Hard-Core Noodling  

Marugame Monzo ups Little Tokyo's udon game 

| Los Angeles   Dining | Garrett Snyder


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Bukkake udon with pickled plum and shiso leaf

A meal at Marugame Monzo is equal parts sideshow and slurping.

Every table in this dark and cozy restaurant, previously home to curry-centric Fat Spoon, has a view of the kitchen’s noodle-making station. There, bandana-clad chefs toss and stretch flour-dusted dough for udon noodles.

After the thick, chewy noodles are cut and bathed in boiling water, they are transformed into a variety of sumptuous soup bowls: from peppery curry udon ($9), to cream-sauced udon dressed with squid and spicy cod roe ($13), to cold bukkake udon ($7), smothered in crispy tempura bits, bonito, shaved radish and scallions.

It's hard to believe that Little Tokyo has gone so long without a spot specializing in freshly made udon. Yet the wait has certainly been worth it.

In addition to those stringy strands, Monzo also serves a fantastically crunchy tempura menu of more than a dozen items, and hefty donburi rice bowls ($5 to $6), including one topped with smoky pork belly shaved into juicy strips.

Although it’s only been open a few weeks, Monzo’s dedication to craft makes it one of Little Tokyo’s essential lunches, especially if you're seeking a change from tonkotsu ramen or delicately plated sushi specials.

Be sure to slurp loudly.

Check Out the Lunch Menu at Marugame Monzo
See Photos of Udon-Making in Action
dining-notes-h notes-fold

Our Los Angeles editor, Garrett Snyder, dined unannounced at Marugame Monzo on March 30. We spent roughly $17.48 on lunch, not including drinks or tip. Service was thorough and extremely friendly. Check out Tasting Table's restaurant recommendation policy.

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Marugame Monzo 329 E 1st St. Los Angeles CA 90012 213-346-9762
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