We interrupt our regular ramen programming for this post on udon.
Although everyone is obsessing on ramen – and I don’t blame them – there are other types of Japanese noodles such as soba and udon. Growing up, I used to love udon for its comforting thick noodles in simple broth. They’re made of wheat flour like ramen, but is often thicker, reminding me at times like earth worms that wriggle into my stomach.
In San Francisco, you can find freshly made udon at the poorly named Kaka Udon Kitchen on busy Franklin Street. The tiny family-run restaurant showcases the soup noodles but also serves up sushi.
During the few winter cold nights we’ve had lately, I visited to try Kaka’s udon noodles. The menu is like a “build-your-udon-bowl” menu, allowing you to select the type of broth (such as soy sauce, curry, konbu, miso and pork) and fixings (ranging from karage to raw egg).
If it seems overwhelming, you can order one of the specialty bowls, which is what I did when I ordered the Japanese BBQ Pork udon ($9.50), which comes with tender pork slices, boiled egg, and slice of fish cake, and served in comforting pork based soup. The noodles itself were the right balance of bland and clean. Sometimes you just want clean food but it wasn’t bland to make you feel you’re bored.
It seems that the udon is really the star. Although I did enjoy their cute spam musubi appetizers (come on, I’m from Hawaii so I had to order it), the other dishes seemed pretty pedestrian, like the salmon shioyaki (lightly salted salmon) and seaweed salad.
The Last Bite
The name shouldn’t prevent you from going to Kaka because the udon can hit the spot on a cold night. A nice neighborhood spot, it’s reliable for its simplicity.
Rating: 2 out of 4 camera snaps
Kaka Udon Kitchen, 1535 Franklin St., San Francisco. PH: 415.577.2380. Open daily from 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. Reservations, major credit cards accepted. www.kakaudonkitchen.com
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