Thursday, January 14, 2010

Matsukado 01-13-2010

Location: 104 2nd Ave.
Time: 7pm
People: JLam from MeSoHungry and myself

Feelings: JLam told me about the new Japanese noodle restaurant in East Village called Matsukado, and seven hours later, we found ourselves at the very place. I actually recall trying this noodle chain in Japan, but I don't particularly remember them having ramen on their menu. It is a bit unusual for a noodle shop in Japan to serve both udon and ramen. It may be a different restaurant, but I recognized the logo.

Matsukado is a spacious place with a no frill decor. Many noodle shops can be quite cramped, which could be considered as a part of the authentic dining experience, but it is refreshing to enjoy noodles without worrying about elbowing your noodly neighbors.

It seems they are in the process of obtaining their liquor license since they had a bar setup, but when we went, it was BYOB. A grocery store is conveniently located across the street if you need some Kirin to go with your ramen.

Their extensive menu that includes izakaya style tapas, donburi, curry, soba, udon, and ramen, made the decision difficult for both of us. Each category had over 10 dishes to choose from, so I thought to myself, "If I like this place, I'd have to come back here every week to try everything." Even with a full menu, ff five Osakan people were here, all of them would positively order udon. And so I did just that. Udon is the carb of choice for us Osakans.

The udon ($8.50, with tempura flakes, sweetened deep-fried tofu pockets, spinach) unfortunately was Tokyo style with dark, sweeter soy based broth. While I do not particularly enjoy Tokyo style broth, it was still very well executed, and the noodles were tantalizingly chewy. It really tasted like a bowl of udon I would eat in Tokyo area. While Udon West and Onya serve decent Osaka style udon, they don't quite take me back to a bowl of udon I used to eat in Osaka. Here, while slurping those thick chewy noodles, the taste brought me home, and my heart was comforted by the warmth of noodle spirit.

While I was being blessed by what seems to be udon god, JLam skipped their $6 shoyu ramen special and ordered Matsukado ramen ($14, with pork, seafood, thick gravy on top of soy based broth). From reading the description of the menu, we thought this was going to be one crazy, greasy ramen, but it turned out to be more simple than we expected. He thought it tasted like Chinese noodles but with Japanese ramen. The noodles were thin and chewy like the ones at Ippudo or Zuzu, but from what I tasted, it was a bit bland. If you like more clean, simple flavor, this would be a good choice for ramen.

We also shared takoyaki ($5), and I was shocked. They did not add any mayo on the takoyaki! The topping of Japanese mayo is the best thing about this dish and really balances the flavors. While disturbed by the complete lack of mayo, I was pleased to find a huge chunk of octopus in each ball. The size of octopus matched the diameter of takoyaki. I may be able to forgive them for the non-mayo tragedy.

I can't wait to go back there and try their soba, curry and donburi. Thanks JLam for letting me know about this great place! I will certainly be commuting here.

No comments: