Please Make Note of Pleasure Palate Attendance Policies and our 3 Strikes Rule by clicking here before RSVP-ing to this Event. Cancelling your RSVP within 24 hours or not showing up at the event without contacting the Organizer ahead of time will result in a strike. 3 Strikes and You're Out!
EVENT MUST KNOWS:
- We will meet in front of the restaurant at 11:15am and will line up and wait until they open at 11:30am. We will proceed to either get the 2 closest tables by the kitchen or sit at the counter so that we can watch the chef(s) make the udon. This place is located next door to Daikokuya!
- Cost per person is expected to be about $20 - $40, depending on how many beverages you may order, plus tax and gratuity. Please bring at least $50 in CASH (small bills preferred) to settle your portion of the bill.
- Marugame Monzo has earned an average rating of 4.0 Stars out of 5.0 from over 140 Yelp Reviewers: http://www.yelp.com/biz/marugame-monzo-los-angeles-2
- Street parking is available. Be sure to read the street signs for any parking restrictions and be prepared to feed the meters. Local parking lots are available and may range from $4 to $7.
- The night before this event, I will sent you my cell number to contact me in case you arrive before I do, or are running late, or are lost.
(Left: My bowl of Uni Cream Udon)
Simple. I ate here earlier this week with a friend. Loved the udon and the various appetizers we ordered, most of which were tempura. It was all delicious. So, it's time to introduce Pleasure Palate members to this place.
Oh look, they just received a glowing review in theh LA Weekly by Besha Roshell: http://www.laweekly.com/2013-06-27/eat-drink/marugame-monzo-downtown/full/
"The product he's laboring over? Udon noodles. Monzo serves more than 20 variations of udon, which are among America's least fetishized Japanese noodles. We tend to swoon and rhapsodize about ramen here, and sometimes soba; the comfort of udon's fat, hearty noodles is less of a fixation. But at Monzo, udon is the star of the show, handmade by chefs in an open kitchen, then carefully cut and batched as diners happily slurp the finished product a few feet away, from a bar facing the action.
The udon here is Sanuki-style, which is most popular in Shikoku, the smallest island ofJapan. Chiefly famous as an important stop for Buddhist pilgrims, the island also is where Monzo's namesake city, Marugame, is located. Sanuki-style noodles are slightly denser and chewier than some softer varieties, thanks to all that pounding as they are rolled and labored over.
House-made udon is difficult to find these days. Kotohira, in Gardena, used to be known for the stuff, but "it was too hard," a waitress there sighs. "The chef is tired. We buy it now." Close to Monzo, on the third floor of the Little Tokyo shopping center, Tsurumaru Udon, which opened recently, serves house-made noodles as well.
But Monzo, which opened in March in Little Tokyo in the space that used to be Fat Spoon, is aiming a little higher, both with its style of udon and the level of service. It's sit-down and upscale, at least for a noodle joint, with black, lacquered tables and a feel that's downright sleek. In this way, Monzo bridges the gap between L.A.'s high-end Japanese restaurants and the low-rent ramen shops that were here even before the current noodle craze (such as Daikokuya, the legendary Little Tokyo ramen shack, which for many years was the only game in town and is located right next door to Monzo).
Here is all the care, effort and comfort of a sushi restaurant, only instead of pristine fish, it's the noodle diners come to revere.
A good part of the menu is dedicated toitameshi, which is the mash-up of Italian and Japanese food currently enjoying huge popularity in Japan. The story of Japan's obsession with Italian food is partially an economic story: In the early '90s, when the Asian economy turned downward, Japanese diners turned away from high-end (typically French) dining. They wanted something cheap and cheerful, food the Japanese callkigaru de yasui. This translated to a fascination with Italian food, which has only grown over the last 20 years.
So at Monzo there is traditional hot and cold udon, and then there's udon with miso carbonara, an intensely rich, oddly smoky bowl of Monzo's fantastic, fat, chewy noodles in a creamy, egg-based sauce with slivers of pork belly. The early days of Japan's interest in Italian food featured a lot of red sauce (it's thought that Italian-American GIs brought Southern Italian food with them during the occupation), but Monzo's fusion sauces tend to be creamy. You can get udon vongole, or udon gratin, or a creamy tomato version with chunks of seafood floating in the sauce.
The dish that has very quickly gained cult status is the uni cream udon, which is printed only on the dinner menu but usually is available at lunch if requested. It is exactly what it sounds like: udon tossed with a thick cream heavily infused with the flavor of sea urchin. Some of the almost metallic tang and funk of pure uni is lost in translation, and yet the dish does capture the sweet, mellow, oceanic magic of the stuff."