[Edit: Ishin Udon Kobo is no longer. A loss from which I shall never recover.]
One time when I was a kid, I was demolishing a bowl of noodles when my mother discovered to her slight horror that I ate them by sucking down the strands intact. So great was my enthusiasm for eating one of my favourite foods that I was more interesting in inhaling my food than chewing. I’ve since learned better dining habits, but my love for noodles remains unchanged. If I could only eat one food for the rest of my life, it would probably be noodles. I have never met a noodle I did not love, but my heart truly belongs to Asian noodles, the chewier and more toothsome, the better.
Fellow noodle lovers out there, take it from me: you have to try Ishin Udon Kobo. This noodle haven right next to Hackescher Markt specializes in homemade Japanese udon, from hot and soupy to iced and everything in between.
Personally, I’m weary of the overhyped Asian fusion food trend that’s taken Berlin by storm. It’s a relief to find a place invested in making simple, casual Japanese food and making it well, as opposed to weird pink dumplings stuffed with duck or what have you. I take it as a good sign that there are always multiple tables of Japanese people eating here whenever I go. The last time (last night, in fact) this included a table of Japanese businessmen, shamelessly wearing paper bibs over their suits and slurping their noodles with such gusto I could hear it from across the restaurant. The noodles are that good.
A regular-sized portion of the fat, perfectly chewy noodles is the same price as the large, so naturally greedy me goes for the large every time, which comes in a bowl so enormous you could seriously bathe a newborn infant in it. The simplest udon soup variation, kitsune udon (first photo above), comes with a chewy slab of fried tofu in a pale, translucent, yet very flavourful broth seasoned with bonito fish, daikon radish, and zesty yuzu peel. There’s a Japanese curry udon topped with tasty nuggets of fried chicken, or a beef broth (above) with the rich flavour and silky mouthfeel that only comes from many hours of simmering with bones. Other options include iced (below) or super-chewy lukewarm udon, which come with a sauce of your choosing to dunk the noodles in before you slurp ’em up. Paper bibs are optional, but recommended. Noodle lovers, have no shame.
p.s. – The hot and cold starters are great too — definitely try the wakame seaweed salad.
Ishin Udon Kobo: Litfaß-Platz 1 | Open Mon-Fri 12.30-14.30, 18.00-21.30. Sat 14.00-21.30. Closed Sunday.