When Danny Meyer and his team pack up all of their plates and pictures at Union Square Cafe and move a few blocks to the northeast, they will leave behind a large space along 16th Street. But, shortly after the December shutter, a popular Japanese udon noodle restaurant chain called Tsurutontan will be settling in, taking over all of the 5,400-square-feet.
The 25-year-old chain already has a dozen locations split between Tokyo and Osaka, but when this one opens in the spring of 2016, it will be the company's first American effort. In Japan, the shop specializes in udon — those thick, boxy noodles that are sadly often overcooked in the U.S. At Tsurutontan, diners are given the choice of thick or traditional udon or thin udon served by the half or full portion (you can even order up to three times the normal size for the same price). Those noodles are served laced with caviar, in a "white goddess" broth, traditional kitsune style, in a curry bath, on ice, and numerous other ways. No word on what precisely will be on the American menu, but the team's been Instagramming some noodle shots.
Tsurutontan is in good company. It's one of several Japanese-based restaurant groups and chains expanding to New York at the moment: High end tempura restaurant Tempura Matsui from restaurant company Ootoya just opened, Tokyo's acclaimed sushi counter Ginza Onodera is plotting a Midtown opening this fall, and of course, the ramen noodle masters of Ichiran are getting ready to open a pair of shops in New York Soon.