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Aug 2, 2009 05:35 PM

Good/Okay Nabeyaki Udon in San Diego?

Years ago, we enjoyed fantastic nabeyake udon served at a small restaurant in Costa Mesa, CA. The chef was from Tokyo, and he also hosted secret (invitation only) fugu dinners.

Evidently he was pretty well known, because the very small restaurant was regularly visited by busloads of Japanese tourists after their trip to Disneyland.

Is there a restaurant in San Diego or adjacent area serving this dish that is worth the drive?

I am hoping to plan a surprise wedding anniversary dinner for the hubby, who lived in Japan for some time.

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  1. Ha...I was just about to post the same query. I know there's a C+ version at the newer Tajima location, and I'm always willing to eat the one at Yoshino (in the strip mall at the end of India Street by the liquor store) which is also a C+. But since Yoshino is close to home, and they do a good job of not overcooking the noodles, not leaving out the shiitake and fish cake, soft boiling the egg correctly and getting the bowl to the table piping hot, I bump them up on a grading curve to a solid B. I'd love to find the best place for this in town...

    1 Reply
    1. re: SaltyRaisins

      Hey, SR

      I hope that the seasoned gourmets in SD will help us.

      Buen provecho!

    2. try Yu Me Ya in Encinitas. I know they have udon (and it is homemade, at least in the winter). I can't remember if they have nabeyaki but it's probably the closest you'll get to what your hubby got in Japan.

      Okan and Oton have udon on their menu, although I forget to leave room for it at the end of the meal and therefore, have never tried it. Everything else on their menu is excellent, so you may have a good shot at getting good udon too.

      Another option is Chopstix on Convoy. They have nabeyaki on the menu, but the above 3 places have better quality food.

      1. This is a shot in the dark, as I do not know if they have it, but Mitsuwa Market on Mercury Street could be a good possibility. Mercury is one block east of Convoy, and Mitsuwa is located across the street from In-N-Out.

        4 Replies
        1. re: Dagney

          The best udon I've had in San Diego is at Sakura on Convoy. I can't remember if they have nabeyaki, but their tempura udon is great. Sakura's dashi (the stock used for the udon soup) is the best I've had outside of homemade. Yu Me Ya also has very good udon but it can be a drive depending on where you're coming from and they're only open for dinner. I would advise against Chopstix and Mitsuwa's take out counter (Kayabata I think it's called); both places are really subpar and would be a huge disappointment compared to the nabeyaki you experienced in Costa Mesa.

          Sakura 1
          3904 Convoy St, San Diego, CA

          1. re: SDgirl

            I think the place in Mitsuwa market is Santuoka, although I think they specialize in ramen.

            1. re: daantaat

              You're right, Santouka is the ramen place (and a wonderful place it is). I was thinking of the other counter right next to it. I wish I could remember its name. Kayabata comes to mind, but I'm not sure that's correct.

              1. re: SDgirl

                You're close, it's called Kayaba :).

        2. Great reports of very good udon and broths. Thanks amici...

          ...but I'm thinking of specifically nabeyaki udon- noodles with fishcake, a piece of tempura, some simmered chicken, shiitake, a sprinkle of negi, a soft-poached egg (or simply cracked over the top at the end) cooked (usually just presented in) an iron nabe. I'm pretty happy with a couple of kitsune, wakame and tanuki bowls around town, but it's the "classc" form that I'm looking for. You too, Gypsy Jan?

          3 Replies
          1. re: SaltyRaisins

            Salty, you made me drool! I, too, would like to know if anyone has come across what you decribe. Just one picky point: tempura is not a part of "authentic" nabeyaki. "Nabe" denotes cooked in the broth and, in case of udon, the fresh noodles are simmered in the soup, along with all the other goodies, rather than boiled separately then placed the bowl. Tempura cannot be a part of the nabe process because it would get soggy. However, that doesn't mean it couldn't be added as a topping after the cooking is done. Shrimp tempura udon with a soft-poached egg. Yum!

            1. re: SDgirl

              You are so right...even more, food prepared "tempore" style, that is fish on Friday, didn't arrive in Japan until the Portugese showed up. Not exactly a traditional ingredient, and something that monks surely do not eat on New Years Eve. So good, though. The only time I really relish deep-fried stuff that is water-logged.

              Other interesting "borrowings" into Japanese cuisine- about Japanese-style curry: joined the rotation in the Japanese quick-kitchen after the Japanese navy copied the British one all the way down to the galley menus at the end of the 19th century. Mmmm, that's good slop!

            2. re: SaltyRaisins


              Yes, you are so correct, I am looking (hopefully) for a classical presentation nabeyaki udon.