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Handmade udon noodles in San Mateo - Tombo

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As a frequent reader here (but first-time poster) I thought I'd do my part to spread the word about a restaurant I'd run across in San Mateo that succeeds at what so many other Japanese restaurants fail at: authentic handmade Udon noodles, done right!

Tombo is a small noodle restaurant tucked into downtown San Mateo and is actually quite easy to overlook... I'd walked by several times before even noticing they were open for business before finally stopping by - and once I did I kicked myself for missing out so long!

A lot of places use frozen noodles that end up mushy and starchy when cooked; The noodles at tombo are just the way they should be: not too soft, and almost chewy in consistency... and delicious! The effect is such that when finishing a bowl, rather than feeling stuffed with soupy starchy noodles I found myself thinking about another bowl...

If you're drinking they will supply a 'drinker's menu' that has some small appetizer dishes that are worth checking out; high points are the takoyaki (fried octopus dumplings) and nikumomiji (seasoned chunks of grilled steak)

The place is not much as far as ambience or decor (very much a mom + pop type of place, handwritten menu, etc.), but the quality of the food has been consistent the 5 times I've been there in the last month (heh heh)... Prices are only so-so; expect to pay about $7 for a bowl of noodles.

The reason I post here is because I'm desperately afraid they're going to go out of business - between their location and very low-key presence, the place has been relatively TOO quiet every time I've been there. But I think their food deserves the word-of-mouth treatment, so please give it a try, especially if you're an udon fan!

Street address is 212 2nd Street (between B St. and Ellsworth), open for lunch from 11:30 - 2:00, dinner from 6:00 to 9:30 or 10 (?)

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  1. Thanks for the post! I love good udon, and I'll be at Tombo very soon. Like you, I've often passed by and not really noticed the place. One breezes by a nondescript little place like this and wonders how it stays in business. The answer must be the sheer good luck of having chowhounds like you who are willing to give the place a try and let others know about it.

    1. Thank you very much for posting! I just got back from dinner at Tombo, and as you said, the udon noodles were excellent! I had a small bowl of udon and a portion of grilled eel over rice ($10), and my husband had the nabeyaki udon ($9.50). The noodles were silken and chewy at the same time, and the broth stayed clear to the dregs, a sign that the noodles didn't break or dissolve--very different from udon in most other Japanese restaurants.

      I'll certainly be back the next time I get a craving for good udon.