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Nov 26, 2007 10:38 AM

Housemade Udon or Soba anywhere?

I can't think of any Japanese restaurants in SF area that make their own noodles let alone steam the heck of their noodles. Any places in the Bay Area. We missed the opportunity to have some in Manhattan too focused on Lobster rolls. I have such a craving. Thanks

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  1. If memory serves, Iroha, Mifune, and Suzu (all in Japantown) make their own noodles.

    3 Replies
    1. re: Carrie 218

      Mifune and Suzu are so average and they say they make their own but does not taste like they do and watered down. Have not been to Iroha.

      1. re: Lori SF

        I would say that Iroha is in the same category as Mifune (same owner, I believe). Quite mediocre. Have not been to Suzu...

        I had some cold udon at Rokko in Sunnyvale a while back that tasted quite good. Have no idea if the noodles are housemade, but rather doubt it...

        1. re: Lori SF

          I have no complaints about Mifune, in fact during the recent cold weather it was just the ticket. And after years of asking that the tempura be put on the side instead of on top of the noodles- it actually came that way. certainly worth the less than $10 for a tummy full of warm pick me up on a cold winters day.

      2. Mikaku on Grant near the Chinatown gate has, at times, had a homemade soba appetizer.

        Medicine, in Crocker Galleria, used to serve amazingly toothsome and flavorful soba noodles, which they didn't make in-house but imported from some special supplier; no idea if they still serve those special noodles.

        Mikaku Restaurant
        323 Grant Ave, San Francisco, CA 94108

        Medicine New-Shojin Eatstation - Closed for remodeling
        161 Sutter St, San Francisco, CA

        6 Replies
        1. re: david kaplan

          I have not been to Medicine since they opened and did not have the soba, I will give it a try this week. I thought Mikaku was closed for some reason. Thanks David.

          1. re: Lori SF

            I don't know if Mikaku is closed -- I haven't been in ages.

            1. re: david kaplan

              They're still open. I was just there last night, actually.

                1. re: Melanie Wong

                  Haha, I guess I should have mentioned that! I had the chawanmushi, which I hadn't had their version in awhile, but it was the nice, hearty version I remembered. I also had the kabocha, served with sea salt which helped to enliven the light sweetness of the kabocha.

                  I do enjoy Mikaku's homemade zaru soba, particularly since they serve the sobayu!

                  1. re: shortexact

                    That does sound nice. I've not been to Mikaku for a while, so I appreciate your keeping it on the radar.

        2. You can forget about the obvious in SF J-town. Definitely not Suzu or Mifune.

          Does Maki still serve inawa udon? Anyone know where they get it from and where it is made?

          A friend on Yelp mentioned that Minako in SF, if you call in advance, will make in house udon for you. If so you might as well get multiple orders.

          Mikaku does also make soba in house but call head if they are to offer it as a special on the white board (dinner only). They don't have a proper milling machine so it's not done the traditional way or like that fresh soba place in Waikiki that's a branch out of Japan, but I'm told the chef who makes it is an enthusiast at the very least and the effort is appreciated by fans nonetheless.

          3 Replies
          1. re: K K

            My friend was planning to take me out for sushi for my birthday on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving, and Sebo's outgoing voice message didn't say anything about closing. So my friend and I drove all the way only to find Sebo closed. I suggested Ino, and when we got there at 8 PM (on a weeknight!) it was so packed, and the old Japanese lady who was shockingly rude told us they couldn't accommodate us if we didn't have a reservation. At the end we ate at Maki after a wait, but my friend laughed while we were waiting on a bench inside the Japantown mall, because he was expecting to treat me to a nice meal at Sebo for my birthday, but at the end we were waiting in a worn-down mall, next to a dirty public restroom, while some custodian was sweeping the floor around us. Ha! :-D

            In any case we had a disappointing meal at Maki (what happened?), and it was expensive too. We bought the $20 Inaniwa Hoshi udon (from akita perfecture I assume). The packet holds enough for a dozen bowls. For those who are not familiar with Inaniwa udon, the price is a big shock. Very interesting chewy texture. And so thin and not round, uinlike your typical udon.


            1. re: vincentlo

              Thanks for the writeup and for trying the udon at Maki. Yikes...

              You can get cheaper bowl of a somewhat lackluster Inawa udon at Sumika in Los Altos, I know they offer it during lunchtime. Not made in house but imported (frozen). Maki maybe uses a similar source? Anyhow I'm not willing to splurge $20 on udon in that overrated ripoff place.

              My birthday's coming up too. Sebo would have been my top choice for dinner, but alas they're closed during that time.

              I'm not surprised Ino is crazy popular now, thanks to Yelp and other foodie blogheadists.

              1. re: K K

                Just to make it clear: The $20 price refers to a packet of dry Inaniwa udon that you can buy from Maki and cook at home. Sushi Tomi offers Inaniwa udon from time to time, as Taka-san announces it in his e-mail list. I've never tried Inaniwa udon in restaurants as it's so easy to make at home.


          2. Let's change the question then... where can I get GOOD udon or soba?

            5 Replies
            1. re: ExtraCheese

              I can't think of any restaurant in the Bay Area that specializes in udon or soba that is any good. I think your best bet is try a Japanese restaurant that is deemed pretty authentic and tasty and then order an udon or soba dish from them if they have one. Many times nabeyaki udon will be on the menu of Japanese restaurants. I can't vouch for udon or soba at all these places (and you'll have to check their menus to see if they offer it), but they have in general what I consider good Japanese food and are trying to gear toward the palette of those who are from or have lived in Japan: Rokko in Sunnyvale, Nami Nami in Mountain View, Gochi in Cupertino, Hatcho in Santa Clara (I know there have been downhill alerts on this place, though), Oidon Sozai Corner in San Mateo, Yuzu in San Mateo, Sanraku in San Francisco (Metreon), Kaygetsu in Menlo Park, Yoko's in San Mateo. I'm sure other people will add to the list...

              1. re: Wendy_san

                Since I am now in the South Bay more often I will try -"Rokko in Sunnyvale, Nami Nami in Mountain View, Gochi in Cupertino" thanks for your post.

                1. re: Wendy_san

                  Yep, going to the Japanese grocery store and making cold zaru udon or soba is SOOO much better than any restaurant around here.

                  I havent been to Nami Nami, so I'll definitely try it. Thanks!

                  1. re: Wendy_san

                    There was a report of Nami Nami serving fresh udon, but last I went during lunch on Friday they did not have it, and I did not inquire, perhaps a dinner only item?

                    Slim pickin's in the overall South Bay for good versions of udon and soba otherwise, you will likely not find any of those noodles made from scratch. The key is finding a restaurant that makes a good dashi (konbu (kelp) and/or katsuoboshi aka bonito flakes based broth) and cook the pre frozen udon or dried soba properly so it still comes out at the right texture and complements the broth (if ordering the hot versions).

                    Some years ago I enjoyed the green tea soba at Fuki Sushi. It might be a whooping $9+ to $11 now but at least presentation is nice and they serve it with grated up daikon and finely chop scallions (hopefully that still stays). Order a side of tempura or sashimi for a slightly upgraded experience (at an extra cost of course).

                    Further south, the next best version of soba I had was at Saizo. Other than the grilled unagi and unagi liver set lunch that was salty but superb, the soba, while prepared from dried packets, was cooked perfectly. The waitstaff will tell you in advance when you order that it will take longer to prepare, which is fine because they do it right and use a good quality dried soba that's a bit darker in tone and more flavorful than the el cheapo lighter kind at the supermarkets. They basically boil in water first until the right consistency/texture is achieved, darin, then soak them in ice water and drain again. At home this doesn't take 10+ mins but at Saizo it takes longer.

                    I know there are haters for this place but Gombei (Menlo Park and San Jose J town) makes a decent udon from refrigerated or frozen udon packets. Chicken udon is prepped exactly like the topping for oyako-don (chicken, egg, dashi, scallions), so perhaps oyako-udon? A big hearty bowl.

                    Although I never had udon and soba at Hoshi (Santa Clara), given that my friend was quite pleased with his ramen there (standard tonkotsu, shoyu and uhmmm shio? broths) and granted Hoshi is an izakaya first and foremost though somehow mysteriously nailing down a lot of varieties which is virtually impossible to do, I would safely suggest trying them there too.

                  2. re: ExtraCheese

                    I have also had good luck with O Chame on 4th Street in Berkeley. I don't know if it is too popular around here, but I have always enjoyed my meals there (especially the udon)

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