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Grab-and-go bowls of udon

By Yu Shing Ting Photos By Nathalie Walker
August 3, 2014

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For me, the opening of Iyo Udon in Ala Moana Center is a dream come true. First of all, I love udon noodles. Secondly, its self-serve cafeteria-style dining is perfect for my on-the-go lifestyle. Plus, the noodles are made fresh daily, taste authentic and are cooked just right — not too soft or too hard.

When you walk into the Japan-based restaurant, located on the second floor of the mall (in the space formerly occupied by Panya, near Victoria’s Secret), you immediately are greeted by workers ready to take your order.

Start by choosing the type of udon you want, along with toppings (green onion, sliced ginger, garlic and/or tempura flakes). Next, select from an assortment of ready-to-eat tempura and musubi, to complete your meal.

Among udon best-sellers are Kamaage Udon ($3.75 regular, $4.75 large), a simple dish of freshly boiled udon noodles with a dipping sauce on the side, and Kake Udon ($3.75 regular, $4.75 large), which consists of udon noodles in a hot broth.

Other customer favorites are Curry Udon ($5.25 regular, $6.25 large) and Ontama Niku Bukkake Udon ($6.25 regular, $7.25 large), served with half boiled egg and seasoned beef.

Recently, Iyo Udon also added combination specials ($10) to the menu. Favorites consist of Beef Bowl Combo, featuring a beef bowl, kake udon and drink.

Iyo Udon opened its first U.S. location in Hawaii this past June, and plans to open more locations throughout the country, including another one in Waikiki.

The restaurant is part of the Iyo Seimen chain of restaurants in Japan, founded by Tsutomu Hamaya, who started the company because of his love of udon, and named it after his hometown in the Ehime prefecture. In just five years, the company has grown to about 35 locations throughout Japan.

The broth served is an original soy based fish broth, and the noodles are made in-house daily with a special piece of machinery. To ensure quality and authenticity is maintained between all locations, trainers from Japan visit regularly, including here in Hawaii.

Now, locals don’t have to leave the island for a taste of Iyo.

Iyo Udon

Ala Moana Center
1450 Ala Moana Blvd. Second Floor, Mauka, Ewa Wing, near Victoria’s Secret
955-5888
10:30 a.m.-10:30 p.m. daily