Fresh strands of udon, any way you’d like them
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Aday of shopping surely can work up an appetite, and Iyo Udon at Ala Moana Center knows exactly what will hit the spot. Authentically Japanese, this cafeteriastyle eatery runs on the philosophy of speedy service without cutting corners.
Upon entering the restaurant, Iyo Udon staffers welcome patrons with the traditional Japanese greeting “Irasshaimase!” Orders are taken at the counter, and diners can watch, as their meal is prepared via the open kitchen, where cooks create their masterpieces. As the line (usually out the door) moves across the counter, diners also may add a la carte items to their trays, including a vast array of tempura and musubi selections. In no time, your desired noodles are slurpready, and a cashier at the self-serve counter’s end will ring you up. From there, patrons may choose to eat in the dining area or take their meal to go.
Iyo Udon embarks on its one-year anniversary next month, and it’s the first U.S. branch in a chain of restaurants founded in 2010. The restaurant’s signature Kake Udon ($3.75 regular, $4.75 large) has received praise from its customer base, featuring thick strands of udon — its chewy texture comparable to mochi. The noodles, which are made fresh on-site, are then paired with a Kansai-style broth accented with kombu (dried kelp) and katsuboshi (sweet bonito fish flakes). Priced at $6.25, Ontama Niku Bukkake Udon presents a little something extra — a half boiled egg and seasoned beef add delicious sources of protein. An assortment of toppings, including sliced ginger, garlic, green onion and more are available as well.
“Sanuki udon is made daily from domestically produced wheat flour using a special machine,” says Iyo Udon staff. “You can see the noodles being cut.”
And while there’s nothing like a hot bowl of savory udon to swoon over, with the summer months approaching, and the days becoming increasingly warmer, you may want to skip the hot broth altogether. Instead, cool off with Zaru ($3.75 regular), cold noodles served on a bamboo mat with kake broth on the side. You won’t want to miss this umamirich accompaniment. Dip the udon in the broth, and the chilled noodles will pick up the flavor, while still being very refreshing. The restaurant foresees a spike in requests for Zaru.
For the devoted noodle lover, Iyo Udon has oodles of noodles to make for many slurp sessions. Call ahead of time to place takeout orders, and grab a rice bowl while you’re at it.
W H E R E
Ala Moana Center
Second Floor, Mauka,
C A L L
H O U R S
Daily, 10 a.m.-10 p.m