Noodles, schmoodles? Obviously you’ve never had the good stuff! Let Fukuoka Mentsudan take care of that for you. This noodle shop, roughly translated as “group of knowledgeable noodle eaters” was originally established by a magazine editor in Kagawa Prefecture, Shikoku. In 2006, Bunpei Yuge, one of Fukuoka’s most prolific food editors, brought this winning formula of cheap but tasty udon to Fukuoka. The noodles served here are sanuki-udon, much firmer and more square-shaped than Hakata udon, and customers can choose from a dozen varieties of hot or chilled noodles. There are two sizes, regular or large, but unless you’re on a diet, we recommend the large portion! After ordering your noodles, kitchen staff pass the bowl to you on a tray, which you take to the condiments counter. There you’ll be tempted by over 20 varieties of tempura, most priced at just 100 yen each. Highly recommended are the chikuwa-ten (fish cake), hanjuku tamago-ten (soft-boiled egg), or the fabulous and fiber-rich gobo-ten (burdock). Pile your choices onto a side plate, calculate your total at the register, and then add soup from wall-mounted sprockets (unless you’ve opted for cold noodles, which don’t require soup). Once seated, it’s up to you whether you add the tempura to the soup or just nibble them on the side. With so much control and choice, you could eat here several times a month and never get bored!
Many people come here for a quick bite, but in the evenings the atmosphere becomes more pub-like and you’ll see customers enjoying just a selection of tempura while sampling Mentsudan’s surprisingly fine selection of shochu and sake.
1F 4-11-3 Watanabe-dori, Chuo-ku
11:00 ~ 24:00, Sun. & Hol. ~ 23:00
Prices: Soy Broth Udon S ¥320 / L ¥420, Bukkake Udon (soup added later) S ¥370 / L ¥470, Kama-age (udon boiled in an iron pot) S ¥370 /L ¥470 , Baby Sardine Tempura ¥100 , Soft-boiled Egg ¥100 , Tamago-yaki ¥100 , Draft Beer ¥400 glass
Originally published in Fukuoka Now magazine (fn102, Jun. 2007)