It’s udon’s turn to shine at the Omakase Restaurant Group’s casual new noodle restaurant Udon Time. The Design District’s new counter-service business (55 Division Street) is a fresh counterpart to the group’s nearby hit Dumpling Time — they also run Michelin-starred sushi spot Omakase and Okane in the same neighborhood — and it’s open now for lunch and dinner.
Amid ramen’s undeniable reign in the US, “Udon is now making a name for itself,” says Edgar Agbayani, the chef behind Dumpling Time and now Udon Time. Newcomers include the chain Marugame in the Stonestown Galleria, Kagawa-Ya on Market Street, and Taro San Japanese Noodle Bar in Palo Alto. Compared with ramen, whose broth in particular can be very rich, “[Udon] is the much lighter version, which is the way I like to eat it,” says Agbayani. “You can eat two bowls.”
Agbayani has done more than that: He toured and trained in Japan at the Sanuki Menki Noodle School in Kagawa before designing the menu for Udon Time. His homemade noodles, whose wheat dough is processed on a Sanuki Japanese udon machine, are thinner than many — more “feminine,” says Agbayani — and aged for about two days to give them the right bounce and bite.
Udon Time customers can sample a variety of preparations, the most basic of which is hot or cold in a light, signature broth ($8), with a dashi base made with a mixture of bonito, mackerel, katsuobushi, and wakame. With noodles that don’t aim to overpower, “we want to make sure you can definitely taste the broth we’re doing,” says Agbayani.
Diners at Udon Time will see cooks making and boiling their noodles behind the counter as they place their order and progress down the line. The last stop before payment is a self-serve tempura station: Fresh fried vegetables, shrimp, and fishcakes are $1.50 or $2 a piece. Finally, customers seat themselves at tables and high top counters. There’s room for 41 in the bright, minimalist space.
Udon Time is housed in the same new Design District development, One Henry Adams, as soon-to-open sibling businesses from the Omakase Group: Niku Steakhouse and an adjacent butcher, The Butcher Shop by Niku Steakhouse. Not only do they share a roof, but lots of ingredients, including beef, which customers can order atop their noodles in the Niku Udon. Rich wagyu will occasionally be available as a topping, too.
The entire Udon Time menu, which also includes onigiri and beverages like beer, wine, and sake, is below. Current hours are Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., no reservations.
Udon Time Menu by on Scribd