A Japanese chain popular for its caviar udon noodles will soon debut its first U.S. outpost in the former Union Square Cafe space. TsuruTonTan, which first opened nearly 30 years ago in Japan, makes its udon noodles in-house and serves them in large bowls that they call "artisanal." The chain has created hundreds of recipes for udon over the years, but the company is best known for its more non-traditional creations, including the signature mentaiko udon made with cod caviar. Other options include an uni udon and broths made with curry or with ingredients more common in Korean than Japan, says Joji Uematsu, vice president of Dining Innovation New York, the company opening the outpost. "People think udon is one broth," he says. "But we have like 400 recipes in-house in Japan."
The New York Tsurutontan will offer between 30 and 40 udon options at a time, and unlike the locations in Japan, it will have a full bar and a broader list of non-udon menu items like sushi and sashimi. The menu will change regularly, rotating from the deep list of non-traditional udons. But besides the bar, the look and feel of the new location at 21 East 16th St. largely resembles the original ones overseas, Uematsu says. "We try to keep it like they do it in Japan," he says. It's expected to open on August 29. Take a look at the space below, and stay tuned for more news as it inches towards opening.