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.

The Menu
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).

Small bowl of plain udon noodles ($5)

Small bowl of plain udon noodles ($5)

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

Kaka Udon Kitchen on Urbanspoon

Unusually bright green seaweed salad $3.95)

Unusually bright green seaweed salad ($3.95)

Specialty Japanese BBQ pork udon ($9.50)

Specialty Japanese BBQ pork udon ($9.50)

Lightly salted salmon was on the dry side.

Lightly salted salmon was on the dry side.

Closer look at the udon noodles when I dined with my friend Jason, who overloaded on the condiments and sprinkles.

Closer look at the udon noodles when I dined with my friend Jason, whose bowl was overloaded with the condiments and sprinkles.

Spam musubi ($2) were cute bite-sized rice balls with just the right char.

Spam musubi ($2) were cute bite-sized rice balls with just the right char

5 Responses to Review of Kaka Udon Kitchen in San Francisco

  1. I love this place! I live in Lower Pac Heights and when I want something other than ramen, this really hits the spot. I only wish they thought more about the name ;)

  2. Tara says:

    Ha, I work a few blocks down and we come here sometimes for lunch! Yes, the name is very unfortunate but I really enjoyed the build-your-own lunch special they had.

    Spam anything is my ultimate guilty pleasure! Like you, I grew up eating it and it always brings back memories. Just don’t remind me what it is made out of. ;)

  3. Sandy says:

    yeah what in the world were they thinking when they picked that name?! I love udon, that was one of the few japanese dishes that my mom would make for us growing up, so that is my comfort food… I’ve never seen udon served like ramen before, how exciting!

    • Ben Ben says:

      That’s true, that bowl did look like ramen. I’m with you, growing it up with simple and plain, and for the most part it’s served that way too at Kaka. I think it’s just the specialty bowl that borderlines on ramen. But who doesn’t love slices of pork with noodles? ;-)

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