If you're looking for a super-fast, cheap, hearty meal, udon is the way to go. Odoru Udon near Umeda Station is a great place to get your fix without the crowds.
Bukkake udon with maitake tempura, simmered beef, and a soft-boiled egg. - image © Florentyna Leow
I've always been more of a soba gal, but Osaka's excellent udon joints are changing my mind about that. It might be confirmation bias: I'd heard that Osaka had many great udon restaurants, and just ended up at the better places on a recent visit. Still, I'm not complaining. When the noodles at a little place like Odoru Udon surprise you with just how good they are, why wonder?
English and Chinese menus are available on request. - image © Florentyna Leow
This little restaurant tucked away on the second basement floor of one of the Osaka Station Buildings specialises in just one thing: udon. Humans are much happier when choosing from a limited range of options, rather than a buffet spread of choices. I do think specialist restaurants in Japan maximise that happiness by limiting your options. Less time spent dithering over choices, more time spent enjoying your food.
The menu in Japanese. - image © Florentyna Leow
The menu looked complicated at first glance. But parse it and you'll realise all the choices are variations on the same base dish with just four toppings: seaweed, egg, maitake mushroom tempura, simmered beef. Do you want it hot or cold? With just one topping or all four? With their gorgeous kijoyu, a dashi-spiked soy-based noodle sauce, or in soup? Having subsequently dined at a few more udon joints around town, I'm realising that the maitake-pork-egg combination isn't exactly unique to Odoru Udon. But when they do it this well, does it even matter?
Sudachi lime, scallions, grated daikon. - image © Florentyna Leow
Whatever you order, it will arrive fast. Good udon restaurants have their delivery down to an art. My bukkake noodles arrived within three minutes of ordering. Maybe speedy noodle bowl assembly isn't something to be impressed by, but it is something to appreciate when you haven't eaten for the last 6 hours.
Before stirring. - image © Florentyna Leow
If you're ordering the bukkake, these smooth, slippery noodles are best appreciated cold. Even if it's a chilly winter's day. It'll be warm enough inside the restaurant, and anyway, the tea will warm you up. They don't have the ultra-chewy texture of my favourite udon - Sanuki - but they're nicely al dente and slurp beautifully.
Breaking the egg. How beautiful are these noodles? - image © Florentyna Leow
Noodle bowls in Japan can skimp a little too much on the toppings for my taste. But not at Odoru Udon - the ratio of toppings to carb is just right for me. Especially that maitake tempura, of which you may be tempted to order an additional plate. Maitake are hands down one of the best ones you can eat as tempura. (Take it from my vegetarian friends.) Huge and meaty, they're wonderfully substantial and juicy inside their crisp, craggy batter. I'd come back for these many times over.
Shichimi pepper and kijoyu for saucing. - image © Florentyna Leow
Eating simple dishes like this makes you appreciate how balanced the flavours and textures are. The gooey egg coating each strand of noodle, the mirin-sweet simmered beef, grated daikon adding a vegetal sweetness alongside rings of Japanese scallion, a squeeze of sudachi adding that bright citrusy acidity to the salty, savoury kijoyu. You can even shake on some of the shichimi pepper for a shot of spice. But enough of adjectives; all you need to do is slurp. And that is enough.
Stirred through. - image © Florentyna Leow
I won't go out on a limb and claim that this is the best udon in Osaka. But it is a damn fine bowl with a great cost-performance ratio. And for a restaurant without queues, it is worth the few minutes walk to the basement of this building from Higashi-Umeda or Umeda Station.
The entrance to Odoru Udon. - image © Florentyna Leow
Directions: Take Exit 11-4 from JR Kita-Shinchi Station. Turn right and walk past several buildings on your left - you will pass Osaka Station 1st and 2nd buildings. When you arrive at Osaka Station 3rd Building on your left, head down to B2.
A map of B2F in the 3rd building. - image © Florentyna Leow
Look for No. 76 on the map above - there are several around this floor. The udon shop is located opposite Coco Ichiban Curry.
Name in Japanese:
B2F, Osaka Ekimae 3rd Building, 1-1 Umeda, Kita-ku, Osaka
大阪府大阪市北区梅田1-1 大阪駅前第3ビル ２Ｆ
11:00am～3:00pm (L.O 2:30pm)
4-minute walk from JR Kita-Shinchi Station, or 7-minute walk from Umeda Station on the Midosuji Subway Line
:: Read customer reviews of Odoru Udon on TripAdvisor
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