Marugame Monzo | 99 Essential Restaurants 2015

Marugame Monzo

photo by Anne Fishbein

The dominant noodle infatuation in America is undoubtedly ramen, but Marugame Monzo in Little Tokyo makes a convincing case for us to allow udon into our noodle-obsessed hearts. It begins with the mesmerizing show of the udon masters making the noodles in the glassed-in kitchen, rolling and smacking and cutting them in batches, and ends with a bowl of the chewy, springy udon in front of you, ready to be slurped. You can go with the crowds and get them bathed in uni cream, or go gluttonous and try the exceedingly rich carbonara version, but we prefer the cold udon served in an intense dashi with grated daikon, chopped scallion, piles of wispy bonito and a poached Jidori egg. At night, the scene turns from noodle bar to sleek izakaya, with plenty of small plates and skewers to complement your drinking, but the udon is still, always and forevermore the star of the show. Consider us obsessed. —Besha Rodell