Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Udon’t Have To Be Mad To Eat Here But It Helps

Udon – it’s noodles in curry soup, basically.

It comes in a big round bowl and is accompanied on a tray by an oversized china spoon and chopsticks neatly rowed up like a surgeon’s instruments.

Upon sitting at the Udon counter down I noticed that instead of a napkin, I had something a bit larger. As I picked it up for examination, it origamied out into a knee-length apron, complete with the halterneck ties. A brilliant idea but clearly this was to be a messy operation.

For a Westerner, eating Udon is not so much tricky as unlikely. I would liken it to searching for the end of the cling film whilst wearing boxing gloves.

When it arrived with the customary bow, I stared at it for a brief moment before glancing out of the corner of my eye to see how the locals were tackling the problem.

It seemed as if the best way to handle it was to use the chopsticks to lift the noodles high out of the broth, at arms length in some cases, before lowering them in a neat little nest onto the big spoon.

That’s the theory, anyway. Except my noodles chose to slink away wetly when in contact with the spoon and fall back into the curry soup flicking hot broth in my eye. At one point I was convinced that the entire bowl was one very long noodle.

This was proving difficult. I’d been sat there five minutes and I hadn’t eaten anything yet. As The Righteous Brothers’ Unchained Melody played in the background and the singer crooned “...and time goes by...so slowly”, I found myself saying “too right, mate”. Obviously written over a bowl of Udon.

20 minutes later and I’d finished. Udon is actually very nice and of course, as always in Japan, the service was impeccable.

I would order them again although next time I might take a pair of scissors to make the whole thing more manageable.

I kept the apron for posterity and later modelled it for the enclosed photos. If you click to enlarge you can actually see the battlescars down the front.

1 comment:

Paul in Hong Kong said...

Yeah, I had the same kind of problem eating Pho in Vietnam. Except they don't provide aprons or impeccable service. Just plastic stools and cruel giggles when you get it all over yourself.