A 10 minute walk from Shinjuku station is Shin Udon, a true hidden gem that can only serve round 10 customers at any one point. A local’s favourite, Shin Udon specializes hand-made Udon that is made fresh in-house, on the spot whenever orders are placed. Udon does not get any fresher than this.
Udon as we all know, is a simple dish. Which means whilst it is easy to make, it is hard to make well. Shin has all the key components of Udon down to an art. The broth is deliciously salty, with just enough depth, courtesy of the dashi (bonito) soup base to appetize the palate and add flavor to the noodles. The handmade noodles themselves are definitely something to write home about. Aside from being fresh, the noodles have a great texture, it is neither too starchy nor too soft and is just the right thickness to make slurping and chewing them feel satisfying.
Something that travelers will definitely appreciate is the unique way Udon is ordered here. Whilst at most restaurants, you are stuck with whatever flavors the restaurant has decided, here at Shin you can quite literally ‘build’ your own Udon.
There are several ‘bases’ to choose from. The first, the basic Udon in broth topped with spring onions and ginger. The second is Udon that is boiled but not shocked in cold water to stop the cooking process but continues to steam in the bowl, topped with raw egg and ginger. The third is normally cooked Udon, served without soup but with raw egg and ginger. To this, you can add your own choice of toppings that are available on the toppings page.
Popular favourites include a variety of Tempura (prawns, burdock etc.), grated radish, Konbu (Japanese seaweed) and beef. A special note goes out to the thinly sliced braised beef for being wonderfully flavorful; very mildly sweet, tempered by a dash of saltiness and just on a whole, very hearty and warming.
Of course, if you are too spoiled for choice and simply cannot choose, there are suggested combinations available on the menu that you can order directly, but where is the fun in that?
On cold days, these warm Udon might hit the spot, but what about hot days? Shin also serves cold Udon (that also comes in the ‘build-it-yourself’ style) for those seeking a refreshing meal.
The only downside to Shin is that, as a hidden gem shared amongst locals, the menu is Japanese only and the staff has a rather dismal command of English. However the menu does come with many beautifully taken pictures, which helps when ordering.
All in all, it does not matter which way you have it, Shin’s Udon is delicious and is definitely a worthy lunch or dinner visit when you are out and about at Shinjuku!