In the few short years it’s been open, Division Street’s Dumpling Time has won limitless love for its beet-skin-wrapped tom yum goong soup dumplings, capitalizing on the success of its progenitors Okane and the Michelin-starred Omakase. Now the Omakase Restaurant Group has announced Udon Time, a fast-casual spot at nearby 1 Henry Adams St. where you can build your own udon bowl.
It’s the first of a planned ORG trio, with Niku Steakhouse and The Butcher Shop by Niku Steakhouse set to debut in February. While ramen remains San Francisco’s true love, udon has made strides all around the city over the past two years, with Japanese chain Marugame Udon‘s Stonestown location still the best reason to venture to a mall. (Granted, these noodle varieties have been around for centuries, so it’s a little icky to conceptualize them solely as trends.)
As with the cafeteria-style Marugame, you can watch the preparation of your noodles from the line at Udon Time, made in a spiffy Sanuki noodle maker. (Chef Edgar Agbayani trained at the lauded Sanuki Menki Noodle School in Kagawa, Japan, where he claims to have eaten a bowl of udon “every 15 minutes.”) The various broths, array of protein-heavy toppings, and other add-ons are all part of the fun, with the standard Sanuki Udon bowl starting at only $8 (hot or cold).
The $14 Niku Udon includes sweet and green onions with ginger, plus Wagyu beef from the forthcoming Butcher Shop, while the Kamatama Udon ($12) takes the best component of ramen — a jidori egg — and rounds it out with parmesan, soy sauce, and butter. Beyond a vegetarian alternative studded with sweet tomatoes and shiitakes, there’s also a pared-down Kama-Age Udon with noodles “direct from the pot” and a dipping sauce.
Various tempura vegetables and onigiri (salmon, spicy tuna, Spam musubi, and the like) make for a customizable experience. And walk-in-only Udon Time also has a liquor license, outfitting it with beer, wine, and sake. The noodles are calling.
Udon Time, 55 Division St., udontime.com