There will always be that one glorious dish that is near and dear to your heart, a food that is synonymous with satisfaction and perfection. We asked our friends on the Complex staff to write #FoodOdes to the dishes that they love. First up, an ode to the udon at Samurai Mama from Video Game editor Hanuman Welch (@HanumanWelch).
Samurai Mama is the closest thing to sitting down at a legit roadside udon house I’ve experienced outside of Japan. Chef-owner Makoto Suzuki has managed to create a perfectly cozy homage to the traditional Japanese noodle shop. While his first Williamsburg spot, Bozu, focused on sushi, his attention turned to creating as close to an authentic Japanese udon as he could manage here in the states. Suzuki’s thick, homemade udon is hand rolled everyday, then boiled in a 20-gallon pot imported from Japan.
The result is a damn near perfect bowl of comfort food. While the udon in Japan varies from region to region, Samurai Mama offers their noodles in either a dashi or konbu broth, then adds toppings like shrimp tempura, sweet potato, impossibly perfect poached eggs, and one of their house specialties, Pork Betty (fat kid seizure-inducing cooked pork belly). The broth is deeply flavorful and satisfying thanks to a two-day cooking process that marries shiitake, freshly shaved bonito flakes, toro scrapings, and katsuo (skip-jack tuna).
Eating a cardigan made out of velvet is the closest thing I can think of that will give your guts that same warm, fuzzy feeling.
Samurai Mama’s gyoza are also worth ordering—and should be washed down with two or three Orion beers. The gyoza come to the table in the same cast iron skillet they were seared in, all stuck together by a delicately crunchy membranous web of franken-gyoza skin. They’re some of the best I’ve had outside of Ikebekuro (a.k.a. the gyoza town right outside of Tokyo).
I lived in Japan for over two years and it crushes me every time I have lousy Japanese food here in New York. Whenever I get the urge to sit, however momentarily, and enjoy a bit of rustic Japanese grub, I know I’ll always be welcomed with an ‘irrashaimase‘ and a heaping bowl of food coma-inducing udon at Samurai Mama.
Samurai Mama, 205 Grand St, Williamsburg, Brooklyn (718-599-6161, samuraimama.com)