Marugame Monzo ups Little Tokyo's udon game
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.
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.