There’s a New Udon Shop in Town
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When Ala Moana Center’s Panya closed shop last year, many wondered what restaurant would take its coveted place. Eager and hungry diners finally received their answer last weekend, when the shopping mall unveiled Iyo Udon, the successful Japanese franchise that specializes in homemade, artisan Udon noodles.
Made from 100 percent domestically produced wheat flour, Iyo Udon’s noodles are made in-house as customers walk in to order. “We are extremely proud of the quality of our Udon noodles, which contain only flour, water and salt,” says general manager Kazu Michimoto. “Because the ingredients are so pure, the noodles are able to absorb so much of the broth flavor.”
First-timers to the shop would do well to order the Kamaage Udon ($3.75 regular, $4.75 large), which serves the noodles separately from a shoyu dipping sauce and a side dish of ginger and green onions. “The Kamaage Udon is by far one of our most popular dishes,” says Michimoto. “It’s a great option for people who like to control how much broth they want with each bite.”
For a lighter option, Michimoto recommends the Kake Udon ($3.75 regular, $4.75 large), which uses comparatively less shoyu base in the broth.
To make the restaurant’s Hawaiian debut extra special, Iyo Udon diners can look forward to an array of dishes found exclusively on the Hawaii location’s menu. Among these, Ontama Niku Bukkake Udon ($6.25 regular, $7.25 large) is a top-seller, served with a delicately poached egg and seasoned beef. “We jam-pack the broth with a ton of clean, distinct flavors, including shoyu, bonito and dried sardines,” says Michimoto. “All of our broths are made each morning well before the restaurant opens to ensure the highest quality.”
In addition to different broths, Iyo Udon offers a wide variety of toppings to accompany the meal, including Fried Chicken ($1.75), Mixed Vegetables ($1.75), Fish-cake ($1.50), Mushrooms ($1.50), Sweet Potato ($1.25) and Shrimp ($1.75).
With more than 30 restaurants in Japan and South Korea, Iyo Udon certainly is not a novice to the business world. Beyond its restaurants, the company also maintains a successful hair salon and barbershop operation, with more than 600 locations throughout Japan and various military bases around the world.
Ala Moana Center
1450 Ala Moana Blvd., Honolulu
Daily, 10:30 a.m.-10 p.m.