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Friday, October 3, 2014

Spicy Niku Bukkake Udon: A Nice Faceful At Udon Mugizo


On Monday I was thwarted in my plan to check out Udon Mugizo by failing to have done my homework and finding out they are closed on Mondays. Today the fates were kinder to me when a striung of errands ended with me at Kaiser Pharmacy, where an easy stroll to Japantown  would get me to Mugizo without too much time to kill before they opened for dinner service.

For all my reservations about ramen, I've always left the door wide open for udon, noodles that really deserve to be call noodles, generally served with less heavy-handed broths and more sensible toppings than ramen.  One of my all-time favorite bowl of noodles anywhere was a bowl of duck udon served at a small udon shop in Shanghai, of all places.  And Udon Mogizu is a veritable temple to udon, which they make fresh in house every day. Mogizu's "temporary" menu (they are still in soft opening) features no less than 35 udon choices, including 16 "warm" udon selections, nine cold udon offerings, and 10 Mugizo "signature" udons. The last category includes "Sea Urchin Cream Sauce Udon," the most expensive bowl in the house at $13.95. Udon Mugizo even managed to work fried udon into one of its desserts.

The uni udon will have to wait, though.  It was  93° F in the Western Addition as I made my way to Udon Mugizo and I had cold noodles in mind all the way. Blocking out all other columns of the menu, I studied my options and chose something provocatively named Spicy Niku Bukkake Udon. The "niku" (meat) in this instance was warm thinly shredded beef, served on a generous bed of cold udon. The "bukkake" (it literally means "splash," you of the dirty mind) is an intense dashi based broth, served cold in a little pitcher that looks like a creamer.  The drill is to pour all or some of the "bukkake" over the dry ingredients and mix them all together. In other words, it's a "dry" or "tossed" noodle dish with analogs in virtually every Asian cuisine.

This was definitely a cold treat on a hot day.  The udon noodles has a bold snap to them, the beef was fresh and savory, and the dashi "bukkake" was intense without being overpowering.  As for the "spicy" part, I'll just say it was Japanese spicy, not Thai spicy, which means it wasn't really spicy at all. But Japanese food was never designed for chiliheads.

I'll be back, Udon Mugizo!

Where sluped: Udon Mugizo, 1581 Webster St. (Kinokuniya Building, 2nd floor), San Francisco.



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