TsuruTonTan: An Udon Empire Sets Foot in New York City
Hi Everyone! Today, we're going to talk about TsuruTonTan, an Udon house in New York City. What is Udon? It's one of Japan's most profound noodle dishes and is characterized by its thick wheat flour noodles. Udon can be served both hot or cold but the broth can differ from bowl to bowl. A simple bowl of udon will contain a soup of dashi (cooking stock), soy sauce, and mirin (cooking wine). It can then be topped with a myriad of ingredients including, scallions, tempura, eggs, mushrooms, fish cakes, etc.
TsuruTonTan has a chain of 12 restaurants in Japan and just opened their first international location in New York in 2016. The first TsuruTonTan opened in 1979 and has perfected its own quality of udon noodles using a specific blend of flour and cooking techniques. They also source their key ingredients (flour, kombu, bonito) from specific regions in Japan.
If you're interested in learning a bit more about the history of Udon, check out our Udon guide. In this guide, I mentioned that there are two overarching regional styles of udon, TsuruTonTan has locations in both Kansai and Kanto, which means that you'll notice both types of udon on their menu.
Overall, TsuruTonTan was good. I'd go back and try their other udon too. I'm also interested in their Donburi Rice Bowls.
Also, check out our TsuruTonTan vs. Raku post here: Ngo Your Meal Battle Series TsuruTonTan vs. Raku
Address: 21 E 16th St., New York, NY 10003
Spicy Tuna Tartare Cone with Avocado Purée, Micro Shiso, Wonton Skin
TsuruTonTan Deluxe Shrimp Tempura, Shortplate Beef, Chicken, Wakame Seaweed, Egg
Wagyu Mushroom Sukiyaki Udon with Wagyu Beef, Shimeji, Oyster, Enoki Mushroom, Vegetable in Sweet Sukiyaki Broth
Let's start talking about the food... Steph and I started with a few appetizers. First, we got the Seared US Wagyu Sushi. It was recommended by our waitress. I mean... it wasn't bad but I think US Wagyu is a joke. No matter what they say, it doesn't even come close to real Japanese Wagyu. But, the truth is that it's still a little better than regular Angus beef. TsuruTonTan laid two thin, but generous, slices of US Wagyu over some sushi rice then topped it with some Fried Garlic.
Our second appetizer was the Spicy Tuna Tartare Cone. This one was pretty damn good. It came with four cones that were all dug into a little wooden box of salt. Very zen-like! The cone was filled with Spicy Tuna Tartare, which was ground to the point where it was smooth and not chunky at all. The resulting texture was conducive for maximum flavor impact.
When you bite into this, the flaky Wonton Skin cone will gently fall apart exposing the velvety smooth tuna as it spreads across your taste buds. The cone also contains Avocado Purée and Micro Shiso. The cone was also filled all the way through to the apex. I checked.
Then, udon started to arrive. Steph got the Wagyu Mushroom Sukiyaki (see above). It came with Wagyu Beef, Vegetables, and three types of Mushroom: Shimeji, Oyster, and Enoki. This was Steph's big bowl of heaven especially since she loves mushrooms more than me.
As you'll soon see, the udon bowls at TsuruTonTan are enormous. They're actually unbelievable. It's stated on the menu but you can request a large portion of udon noodles at no extra charge.
Steph's udon came in a Sweet Sukiyaki Broth, which is a bit repetitive since Sukiyaki is already supposed to be sweet. Steph's broth was really addicting. I just couldn’t stop drinking it. It's broth is made with soy sauce and sugar, which explains its taste and color.
In the picture above, you'll notice how the size of the udon compares to a real human. Look at that enormous bowl! It's almost the same width as her torso.
And, finally, I got my TsuruTonTan Deluxe Udon (see above). This one was also enormous. It came with several different types of toppings too, including Shrimp Tempura, Short Plate Beef, Chicken, Wakame Seaweed, and Egg. What a hearty dish!
All the toppings were decent except for the Shrimp Tempura, which was quite sad. When it arrived, the fried part was totally soggy already (see above). Check out that limp tempura. It looked like it just spent an afternoon in a sauna. As I ate the udon, the fried coating basically fell off and diluted my broth with pieces of soggy fried batter.
As I tried to ignore the floating pieces of mush that were presumably crispy at some point, I noticed the broth was actually quite good. I felt so satisfied after eating.
It's definitely one of the more legit bowls of udon in NYC. The noodles were more of the same. The noodles were thick and tasty. But, they lacked a bit of that al dente bounce when you bite down on it but they were still good.