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Samurai Mama
Samurai Mama
Photo by Robert Sietsema

11 Sublime Soba and Udon Noodles in NYC

Excellent soba and udon, from hearty bowls to austere chilled trays

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Samurai Mama
| Photo by Robert Sietsema

Ramen may dominate the stateside discourse about Japanese noodle dishes, as proven by New York’s extensive array of great places to procure the dish. But there are indeed some exemplary versions of soba and udon to be found around town. The former are more delicate in girth and made from buckwheat, touted for being gluten-free, low in cholesterol, and generally a pretty damn healthy option on the cross-cultural noodle circuit. In stark contrast, there’s udon, a hefty, chewy, pale wheat noodle.

There are acclaimed, venerable temples devoted to udon throughout Japan, yet New York still hasn’t hit peak soba appreciation, and has a ways to go in terms of udon choices, too. A small but mighty crop of high-quality soba establishments have enjoyed loyal followings for years, though stalwarts like Midtown’s Soba Nippon have shuttered, and a handful of promising udon-centric spots have debuted in recent years. Ahead, 11 places to satiate that soba or udon craving, ASAP.

Note: This map is arranged geographically, north to south.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

1. Soba Noodle Azuma

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251 W 55th St
New York, NY 10019
(917) 262-0540
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This Midtown soba specialist makes its noodles in-house daily; choose between four different portion sizes for same price. A straightforward selection of sets, most ringing in around $15, include a bowl of traditional, unadorned noodles served hot or cold and flanked by dipping sauce and protein options like tempura shrimp, grated yam, grilled mackerel, or pork cutlet. While the house specialty is soba, as the name implies, udon is on offer, too: Swap out thin buckwheat noodles for their distant chubby cousin for any of the options. Another location is across the Hudson River in Fort Lee, N.J.

2. Soba Totto

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211 E 43rd St A
New York, NY 10017
(212) 557-8200
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Conveniently located right near Grand Central, Soba Totto dishes up warm soba paired with tempura or duck. Or, choose from more luxe toppings like uni, salmon roe, or Berkshire pork belly atop cold noodles, which are also available in very spartan form, with simply a traditional dipping sauce. Supplement with a few yakitori skewers by manager and chef Mika Ohie, who also runs well-loved Yakitori Totto across town and a dozen blocks north. And for the local cubicle set, there’s a daily, cash-only $10 to-go special at lunchtime.

A post shared by Soba TOTTO (@sobatotto) on

3. Izakaya Mew

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Basement, 53 W 35th St
New York, NY 10001
(646) 368-9384
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A subterranean den near Herald Square for nursing a frozen beer and downing a couple small plates, Izakaya Mew offers a sprawling menu of Japanese dishes suited for soaking up booze, like the omu soba, which features sauteed noodles with pork and vegetables, swaddled in an egg omelet and topped with bonito flakes. There’s also a seafood udon soup with Littleneck clams and butter. A brief (5 p.m. to 6 p.m.) happy hour includes $4 Sapporo pints and house sake plus $5 glasses of select wines. Mew is a drinking den with a serviceable, wide-ranging menu — not a noodle destination by any stretch — but it’s a solid bet amid the lackluster dining options in the Madison Square Garden vicinity.

4. TsuruTonTan Udon Noodle Brasserie

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21 E 16th St
New York, NY 10003
(212) 989-1000
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The Japanese udon chain’s first international outpost, housed in the original Union Square Cafe location, features a wide array of its flagship noodles. They’re available in two different thicknesses, and for any of the myriad versions, choose between regular and larger sizes with no additional cost for getting a heftier portion. The spicy tan tan ground pork with a sesame broth that’s got a bit of heat is a highlight. While there are a couple of richer fusion creations, the restaurant also offers some lighter, broth-based options.

5. Ootoya

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41 E 11th St
New York, NY 10003
(212) 473-4300
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This Japanese import has a few outposts scattered throughout NYC, serving up a massive array of a la carte or side-addled sets of homey favorites like grilled fish, yakitori assortments, and tonkatsu. The ultra-traditional soba selection includes lacquered trays heaped with cold noodles, or a warm version in bowls filled with a light broth. The noodles are made daily using buckwheat flour from Hokkaido, alongside classic dipping sauce and pleasantly slick grated yam. Another highlight is housemade tofu, whipped up on-premises every day and making a number of menu cameos, including in salad form or simply adorned with bonito that’s aged over six months. Udon makes an appearance as a $7 side portion.

6. Sobaya

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229 E 9th St
New York, NY 10003
(212) 533-6966
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This popular spot nestled in the East Village’s Little Tokyo has a particularly varied selection of deftly prepared, pricier sobas, offered in three portion sizes and price points. The Kinoko, filled with shimeji, enoki, and shiitake mushrooms, is a standout, while the curry nanban and stamina, filled with fried chicken and garlic, are heartier choices. Pop by between 5:30 p.m. and 7 p.m. Monday through Thursday for a $22 early bird dinner special, comprised of an appetizer assortment, tempura mix, option of soba or udon served cold or hot, plus inari sushi and vanilla ice cream covered with strawberry sauce.

7. Udon West

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11 St Marks Pl
New York, NY 10003
(212) 922-9677

The focus is firmly on the wide, toothsome namesake noodle at this chainlet of no-frills udon-slinging joints that pretty faithfully replicates the experience of a Tokyo or Kyoto noodle purveyor. Unadorned bowls with seaweed, egg, and the ilk are on offer, as are a wide selection of fried add-ins, like shrimp tempura or a tasty boneless fried chicken option. There’s another location in Midtown.

Udon West Photo via Udon West/Facebook.

8. Fukurou

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87 Macdougal St
New York, NY 10012
(212) 388-0013
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This pint-sized, welcoming, brick-walled izakaya with owl-themed decor is the first U.S. location for this successful Japanese chain. There’s a satisfying omu yakisoba, filled with pan-fried noodles wrapped in fried egg and drizzled with mayo and ketchup, a nice foil for the selection of sake and Japanese beers. The salmon and salmon roe rice, cooked in a clay pot, is a slightly more refined highlight. But don’t miss the avocado tofu app, made in-house.

Fukurou
Omu Yakisoba
Fukurou

9. Raku

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342 E 6th St
New York, NY 10003
(212) 228-1324
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Udon gets its overdue moment at Raku. The intimate space, opened in 2015 by chef Norihiro Ishizuka, specializes in excellent bowls of handmade noodles imported from Japan. The familiarly thick standard noodles, substantial but not gummy, are exemplary; there’s also the thinner, off-menu inaniwa version. Preparations include a range of soups, a sparse chilled zaru iteration with nori powder, or a cold version served with a raw quail egg, scallions, wasabi, and mushrooms. For more adventurous palettes, there’s the niku version with tripe and short rib, a highlight per Eater critic Robert Sietsema. A few blocks away, Ishizuka runs Kura, the superb, miniscule omakase outfit on Saint Mark’s Place.

Raku Photo: Robert Sietsema

10. Cocoron

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37 Kenmare St
New York, NY 10012
(212) 966-0800
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Topnotch soba is the speciality at this snug, cash-only Nolita spot, consisting of tight counter seating and a handful of tables. The buckwheat noodles come in a myriad of broths, and dipping sauces are the main attraction. Go for the particularly traditional dipping sauce and tempura-flanked sets, or try a soul-recharging hot bowl of soba soup, many incorporating grated radish, bonito, and sesame in various forms. The yuzu-spiked warm stamina soba with tender chicken meatballs is a highlight, while any of the cold soba dishes make for a particularly refreshing summer meal. Another Cocoron outpost is situated just a few blocks away on Delancey.

11. Samurai Mama

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205 Grand St
Brooklyn, NY 11211
(718) 599-6161
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Chef-owner of Bozu, the fusion Japanese small-plates spot known for its orb-like “sushi bombs” (dome-shaped nigiri with a range of sauces and crunchy toppings), is also behind this nearby udon joint. At Makoto Suzuki’s sophomore venture in the area, strands are served chilled or in soup form; the noodles are handmade daily using specially filtered Kaiaki water and a distinctive flour blend from California. There’s an impressive plethora of choices, from a hot seafood curry version to a chilled plum, shiso, and daikon radish-strewn option.

Samurai Mama Photo by Robert Sietsema

1. Soba Noodle Azuma

251 W 55th St, New York, NY 10019

This Midtown soba specialist makes its noodles in-house daily; choose between four different portion sizes for same price. A straightforward selection of sets, most ringing in around $15, include a bowl of traditional, unadorned noodles served hot or cold and flanked by dipping sauce and protein options like tempura shrimp, grated yam, grilled mackerel, or pork cutlet. While the house specialty is soba, as the name implies, udon is on offer, too: Swap out thin buckwheat noodles for their distant chubby cousin for any of the options. Another location is across the Hudson River in Fort Lee, N.J.

251 W 55th St
New York, NY 10019

2. Soba Totto

211 E 43rd St A, New York, NY 10017

Conveniently located right near Grand Central, Soba Totto dishes up warm soba paired with tempura or duck. Or, choose from more luxe toppings like uni, salmon roe, or Berkshire pork belly atop cold noodles, which are also available in very spartan form, with simply a traditional dipping sauce. Supplement with a few yakitori skewers by manager and chef Mika Ohie, who also runs well-loved Yakitori Totto across town and a dozen blocks north. And for the local cubicle set, there’s a daily, cash-only $10 to-go special at lunchtime.

211 E 43rd St A
New York, NY 10017

3. Izakaya Mew

Basement, 53 W 35th St, New York, NY 10001

A subterranean den near Herald Square for nursing a frozen beer and downing a couple small plates, Izakaya Mew offers a sprawling menu of Japanese dishes suited for soaking up booze, like the omu soba, which features sauteed noodles with pork and vegetables, swaddled in an egg omelet and topped with bonito flakes. There’s also a seafood udon soup with Littleneck clams and butter. A brief (5 p.m. to 6 p.m.) happy hour includes $4 Sapporo pints and house sake plus $5 glasses of select wines. Mew is a drinking den with a serviceable, wide-ranging menu — not a noodle destination by any stretch — but it’s a solid bet amid the lackluster dining options in the Madison Square Garden vicinity.

Basement, 53 W 35th St
New York, NY 10001

4. TsuruTonTan Udon Noodle Brasserie

21 E 16th St, New York, NY 10003

The Japanese udon chain’s first international outpost, housed in the original Union Square Cafe location, features a wide array of its flagship noodles. They’re available in two different thicknesses, and for any of the myriad versions, choose between regular and larger sizes with no additional cost for getting a heftier portion. The spicy tan tan ground pork with a sesame broth that’s got a bit of heat is a highlight. While there are a couple of richer fusion creations, the restaurant also offers some lighter, broth-based options.

21 E 16th St
New York, NY 10003

5. Ootoya

41 E 11th St, New York, NY 10003

This Japanese import has a few outposts scattered throughout NYC, serving up a massive array of a la carte or side-addled sets of homey favorites like grilled fish, yakitori assortments, and tonkatsu. The ultra-traditional soba selection includes lacquered trays heaped with cold noodles, or a warm version in bowls filled with a light broth. The noodles are made daily using buckwheat flour from Hokkaido, alongside classic dipping sauce and pleasantly slick grated yam. Another highlight is housemade tofu, whipped up on-premises every day and making a number of menu cameos, including in salad form or simply adorned with bonito that’s aged over six months. Udon makes an appearance as a $7 side portion.

41 E 11th St
New York, NY 10003

6. Sobaya

229 E 9th St, New York, NY 10003

This popular spot nestled in the East Village’s Little Tokyo has a particularly varied selection of deftly prepared, pricier sobas, offered in three portion sizes and price points. The Kinoko, filled with shimeji, enoki, and shiitake mushrooms, is a standout, while the curry nanban and stamina, filled with fried chicken and garlic, are heartier choices. Pop by between 5:30 p.m. and 7 p.m. Monday through Thursday for a $22 early bird dinner special, comprised of an appetizer assortment, tempura mix, option of soba or udon served cold or hot, plus inari sushi and vanilla ice cream covered with strawberry sauce.

229 E 9th St
New York, NY 10003

7. Udon West

11 St Marks Pl, New York, NY 10003
Udon West Photo via Udon West/Facebook.

The focus is firmly on the wide, toothsome namesake noodle at this chainlet of no-frills udon-slinging joints that pretty faithfully replicates the experience of a Tokyo or Kyoto noodle purveyor. Unadorned bowls with seaweed, egg, and the ilk are on offer, as are a wide selection of fried add-ins, like shrimp tempura or a tasty boneless fried chicken option. There’s another location in Midtown.

11 St Marks Pl
New York, NY 10003

8. Fukurou

87 Macdougal St, New York, NY 10012
Fukurou
Omu Yakisoba
Fukurou

This pint-sized, welcoming, brick-walled izakaya with owl-themed decor is the first U.S. location for this successful Japanese chain. There’s a satisfying omu yakisoba, filled with pan-fried noodles wrapped in fried egg and drizzled with mayo and ketchup, a nice foil for the selection of sake and Japanese beers. The salmon and salmon roe rice, cooked in a clay pot, is a slightly more refined highlight. But don’t miss the avocado tofu app, made in-house.

87 Macdougal St
New York, NY 10012

9. Raku

342 E 6th St, New York, NY 10003
Raku Photo: Robert Sietsema

Udon gets its overdue moment at Raku. The intimate space, opened in 2015 by chef Norihiro Ishizuka, specializes in excellent bowls of handmade noodles imported from Japan. The familiarly thick standard noodles, substantial but not gummy, are exemplary; there’s also the thinner, off-menu inaniwa version. Preparations include a range of soups, a sparse chilled zaru iteration with nori powder, or a cold version served with a raw quail egg, scallions, wasabi, and mushrooms. For more adventurous palettes, there’s the niku version with tripe and short rib, a highlight per Eater critic Robert Sietsema. A few blocks away, Ishizuka runs Kura, the superb, miniscule omakase outfit on Saint Mark’s Place.

342 E 6th St
New York, NY 10003

10. Cocoron

37 Kenmare St, New York, NY 10012

Topnotch soba is the speciality at this snug, cash-only Nolita spot, consisting of tight counter seating and a handful of tables. The buckwheat noodles come in a myriad of broths, and dipping sauces are the main attraction. Go for the particularly traditional dipping sauce and tempura-flanked sets, or try a soul-recharging hot bowl of soba soup, many incorporating grated radish, bonito, and sesame in various forms. The yuzu-spiked warm stamina soba with tender chicken meatballs is a highlight, while any of the cold soba dishes make for a particularly refreshing summer meal. Another Cocoron outpost is situated just a few blocks away on Delancey.

37 Kenmare St
New York, NY 10012

11. Samurai Mama

205 Grand St, Brooklyn, NY 11211
Samurai Mama Photo by Robert Sietsema

Chef-owner of Bozu, the fusion Japanese small-plates spot known for its orb-like “sushi bombs” (dome-shaped nigiri with a range of sauces and crunchy toppings), is also behind this nearby udon joint. At Makoto Suzuki’s sophomore venture in the area, strands are served chilled or in soup form; the noodles are handmade daily using specially filtered Kaiaki water and a distinctive flour blend from California. There’s an impressive plethora of choices, from a hot seafood curry version to a chilled plum, shiso, and daikon radish-strewn option.

205 Grand St
Brooklyn, NY 11211

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