Udon noodles are made fresh daily at Taro San Japanese Noodle Bar, now open in Palo Alto’s Stanford Shopping Center.
Chef-owner Jerome Ito, also of Go Fish Poke Bar, traveled to Japan and Singapore to learn how to make fresh udon noodles — three different styles of varying thickness will eventually be on offer at Taro San, served in both traditional and untraditional ways. The tori paitan udon gives the noodles the ramen treatment with a rich, creamy broth. In another preparation, the udon is served tsukemen ramen-style, with the noodles meant to be dipped into a separate bowl of duck and fish broth. According to Palo Alto Online, cold udon featuring extra skinny noodles is on the horizon as well as udon pasta with uni and ikura.
In addition to noodles, Taro San serves some shareable, izakaya-style plates like fried chicken, Japanese potato salad with tobiko, and crab sunomono. Japanese beer, sake, and wine are also on offer. (See the limited soft opening menu below; the official opening takes place Saturday, January 12.)
The 45-seat space, formerly Babbo’s Restaurant, takes design inspiration from Japan, with pale wood, white tile, and a mural showcasing the streets of Tokyo and Osaka. Guests order off of tablets and slurp noodles from custom-made ceramic bowls.
New ramen restaurants continue to draw massive waits across the Bay Area, but udon is definitely on the upswing. First Kagawa-Ya Udon opened on Market Street in 2017, then international chain Marugame Udon arrived with much fanfare in Stonestown Galleria about a year ago. And Omakase Group, the team behind Omakase and Dumpling Time, is getting into the noodle game by opening Udon Time.
Taro San Japanese Noodle Bar is located at 717 Stanford Shopping Center in Palo Alto. Hours are Monday through Saturday 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Sunday 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.