Peering into the widow of Udon West I had high hopes. I liked the counter-style dining with about 10 seats where you can watch the chefs make each noodle bowl to order. There are also a couple of tables in the back if you have a larger party. I was intrigued by the menu with pictures of each noodle bowl and each noodle bowl dinner-set, a combo of a bowl of udon and a choice of entree.
I quickly ordered the tempura/noodle set which consisted of a medium size bowl of udon noodles, shrimp and vegetable tempura and rice for under 10 dollars. My dinner companion opted for the pork tonkatsu dinner set. Other sets included curry, beef, short rib, gyoza and spicy tuna. Just a noodle bowl filled with tempura, beef or tofu were also options.
Watching the chefs at work I noticed the noodle guy pulling out frozen blocks of Udon out of a small freezer. For the price I wasn't expecting that they would be making the noodles fresh but I guess I wasn't expecting that they would be frozen either. I asked him where they get their noodles and he informed me that they came from Japan and were made especially for the restaurant because Udon West is a chain back in Japan. Just as quickly as we were seated the food was prepared and served. The Udon broth was a little fishy for my preference but that was easily remedied with the addition of hot pepper flakes. The noodles however had a watery consistency, like they were cooked for too long. I felt that my vegetable and shrimp tempura was a bit too saturated and greasy. I'm accustomed to more a light and airy texture. Maybe the oil was not as hot as it could be.
The pork cutlet fared better. We watched as the chef pounded, floured and fried the cutlet which was well cooked, juicy and crispy with BBQ sauce on the side and miso salad. In addition to the noodle bowl prices being a great deal, so were the drinks. 12 oz Kirin and Kirin Light were only $2.50 Sunday through Thursday from 5 until midnight. Udon West is also open until 3AM during the week and 4AM on the weekends and is cash only. Although I wouldn't rush to go back to Udon West because there are so many other noodle places on St. Marks, you certainly can't beat the price, quick service and late night hours.
11 St Marks Pl
New York, NY 10003-7806