At Tsurutontan, which just opened in New York City, the flour and salt fly in from Japan—as do the head chefs tasked with introducing an overlooked noodle soup to the States.
“Udon isn’t as recognized as ramen in the U.S.,” Joji Uematsu, Tsurutontan’s vice president of dining innovation, laments. “But opening in New York is the quickest way to get people to know udon and our brand.”
And he’s right: The first U.S. outpost of the Japan’s 12 shop-strong chain has been getting press ever since it became the tenant of one particular space, the old Union Square Café. Since summer, Uematsu and the team have been renovating the restaurant as well as testing domestic products in their distinctly Japanese dishes, like California uni for noodle toppings and good ol’ New York tap water for the dough, the latter which Uematsu notes is similar to the hardness of Osaka’s waters.