With all the furor over the recent ramen wars in the L.A. dining scene, it was refreshing to see an udon specialist make an entry. Marugame Monzo occupies an auspicious location, right next to Daikokuya in Little Tokyo.
I ordered the shisyamo tempura with curry powder appetizer, the Champon Udon, with a mini-beef don. My tempura sides included soft-boiled egg, kakiage, eggplant, baby octopus, squid, fishcake & shiso.
Verdict: The house-made udon is definitely good. It's got "bite", and super-satisfying for either slurping or chomping. The shisyamo tempura is fantastic. The only issue I had was that just about everything else was so sweet, from the champon soup, to the beef bowl, to the tempura batter (for my sides). I understand that a touch of sweetness is acceptable in Japanese cuisine. But I have to admit, the sweetness level here was a bit distracting. It's definitely not a major issue, but I felt I should bring it up.
On a very bright note, the other aspects of the my meal were great. My soft-boiled tempura egg was delicious: Runny yolk, perfectly prepared. Service is attentive and prompt.
To skirt the sweetness issue next time, perhaps I will order a different broth. And this being summer, I might order one of the cold udon preparations.
The quality of the freshly made udon here, as well as the shisyamo tempura appetizer, make Marugame Monzo worthy of a Chow-visit.
329 E. 1st St.
Los Angeles, CA 90012
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