OMG I'm in Shinjuku! OK, I won't go into great details about my gruelling trip (it's not easy travelling with a baby!) and how wonderful the Japanese have been. Straight to food! Ah now I can add a label that says ~Japan!
We had no energy to wander too far, so we hit up Mentsu-dan, which is just down the street from our hotel. This charming and casual eatery calls itself the Sanuki Udon ambassador, and truly deserves that title. We already knew this place from a previous visit. This shop has made me a convert - I previously hated udon (I mean, what could be more uninteresting than fat threads of bland wheat flour noodles?) but here, udon is an epiphany. Springy, chewy and unusually umami, it has character and carries well whatever soup it's in.
They have so many types to choose from. I went for the regular hot broth udon - atsukake (small bowl, 290 yen) - and gave it an ebi tempura and a kakiage that seems to comprise spinach and small anchovies. Oh my god, the udon was so delicious, I was telling myself I could eat this every day!!
Hubby went for their new promotion - cheese-egg udon! I was a little skeptical but once I tasted it, oh my lord...how the Japanese can take something so simple and make it so tasty! The richness of this contrasted with my soup udon but both were incredibly delicious in their own way. "Work of art!" proclaims hubby.
Here's a shot of part of the items you can add to your udon. From all kinds of tempura to rice balls to kakuni (stewed pork), beancurd products and oden. All really cheap from 100 yen onwards.
I couldn't resist going for a second round of the toppings and side dishes. I had a piece of chicken tempura (very well marinated), pumpkin tempura (delicious when piping hot), chikuwa tempura (a long, hollow circular fishcake). Plus a pork croquette and shrimp rice ball. All 100 yen each.
P.S. Nadine ate the udon and pumpkin - she who normally spits everything out, ate every piece I gave her and wanted more! Stamp of approval from super-fussy eater - that's gotta say something (at least in my books!). Ah sigh, I so want to go back and eat more...never mind all the other "to-eat" targets on my list!
UPDATE: OK, someone asked for directions, so here's a Google map. Basically, from Shinjuku station, exit on the West side and head north. Keep going after the huge crossing and you will soon see a 7-Eleven, Pepper Lunch and Sukiya on the left side of the road. Turn left there - the road forks into two though, so take the upper one - and Mentsu-dan is just a few shops down from there. Check out the official website too (link below) for a location map, if you'd like.
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Nishi-Shinjuku, 7-9-15 Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo