In a diminutive noodle shop called Shin Udon, a short walk from Shinjuku station in Tokyo, I savored a bowl of udon noodles that would ruin me for all other noodle experiences. Perhaps it's unfair to compare all noodles to this — the thick, chewy strands are made fresh, moments before they are served (we spent half an hour watching the noodle maker at work while we waited for a table). My bowl of udon with hot soy, soft-boiled egg, butter and black pepper blew my mind and entranced my taste buds. As I slurped the toothsome, salty strands, I knew I was having a life-changing experience. While there is no way to truly replicate this unforgettable experience at home, my humble rendition of Shin Udon's incomparable noodle dish is still satisfying and crave-worthy.
Technique tip: As soon as the eggs are ready, cool them under cold water to stop further cooking.
Swap option: To make it vegan, omit the eggs and use vegan butter.
Bring a small saucepan of water to the boil. Add the eggs and set the timer for 6 minutes. As soon as the buzzer goes, immediately drain the eggs into a colander and place under cold running water until they are completely cold (this will make very soft-boiled eggs — if you prefer a firmer yolk, cook them for another minute). Peel and set aside.2.
Cook the udon noodles in a large saucepan of salted water according to the packet instructions until al dente. This will take 1–3 minutes, depending on whether your noodles are fresh, vacuum-sealed or frozen. Drain, then scoop the hot noodles into four bowls.3.
Meanwhile, combine the stock, tamari or soy sauce and mirin in a small saucepan and place over low heat until hot.4.
Pour the hot soy sauce over each bowl of noodles and top with a soft-boiled egg. Add a knob of butter and allow it to melt into the noodles. Add the scallions and scatter a generous amount of black pepper over the noodles (use as much pepper as you like, but this dish is intended to be very peppery). Finish with a little drizzle of sesame oil and sprinkle with sea salt.