Sanukiseimen Mugimaru - Costa Mesa
Sanukiseimen Mugimaru ain't messing around with their udon. They treat their noodles with the care of a mother bathing an infant. This is appropriate as the precious strands are born right there, in the narrow kitchen within view of anyone who cares to peek in at their stall in the Mitsuwa Marketplace food court.
I've not been patient enough to witness the entire process take place, but I can imagine it could take hours to make proper udon. And if there's anyone obsessed enough with creating an optimally chewy udon noodle, it's these guys. With nets, vats, steaming hot vessels, and ice cold baths, what happens down the line is done as a hallowed ritual here--a far cry from those vacuum-packed squares we're all used to.
Barely anything is done to the noodles when it's served to you. It can be had hot or cold. Ask for hot, whether it is with a broth, some curry, or a concentrated kind of sauce, and a worker will temper an empty bowl, dipping it in hot water and turning it until it comes to temperature and thus, ready to receive the noodles. The udon is then dropped in with nothing more than the basic components required. Add ons of green onions, tempura crumbs, and red pepper are your duty to apply.
My favorite way to take the udon is in a soup with one of those silken eggs that's cooked low and slow until the yolk and albumen take on the same homogenous consistency somewhere between liquid and solid. Cracked and released into the broth where it floats as if in a lava lamp, it is almost as good as the noodles.
Udon, famous for its thick and toothsome chew, is especially bouncy, slippery, elastic here. The natural foil to them is tempura, which exists in a pick-your-choice, pay-by-the-piece bar near the cashier. But despite all the reverence, however you eat the tempura with the udon, whether you decide to dunk it daintily in the liquid, submerge it completely in the soup, or munch on it like a side dish, there is no wrong way. Slurping, by the way, is completely acceptable.
665 Paularino Ave
Costa Mesa, CA 92626
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