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.