Masakiya - Spice up the Udon
Out of the Way
Masakiya is an udon shop. It is located not only off the beaten path, but well off the oft-travelled roads in an offbeat area, Nishi-Ogikubo. Nishiogi is well known for its antique shops, used books, quaint eateries, and, mostly, for being located near the ever popular Kichijoji, Asagaya, Koenji, and Nakano.
Located around a 1k walk away from Nishiogi Station on the Chuo/Sobu Lines is the busy intersection on old Ome Kaido called "Momoi 4-chome." With a koban on the corner and a big public building behind the koban, the intersection is a very busy one in a rather quiet residential area.
A small hop, skip, and no jump from the intersection is the newly opened Masakiya. You won't find it in any Tokyo guidebook, not only because it is too new, but because it is a very sleepy neighborhood.
It starts out looking rather tame, like, well, pretty much any other bowl of udon, albeit tsukemen style. The pork meat in the dipping sauce may have been unusual 15 years ago, but there are many pork/noodle shops now boasting their "buta-men," literally pork noodles.
The noodles are handmade, a good start - but not in the shop. They hail from somewhere in the Tama area, a part of Tokyo famous for its udon. The slightly gray-brown color of the noodles makes it look a bit like soba, but it's just unbleached flour. That's a second plus.
Then, after a taste, there are the condiments.
The best thing about Masakiya is the toppings. There are instructions on the wall about how to best eat the noodles. After the first sip and slurp, add red peppers to the noodles. I like mine red hot!
There is the famous Shichimi (7 spices), too, but with the tsukemen I prefer the simple red pepper. Then, you add fresh grated ginger, roasted garlic, sesame seeds (white), and chopped scallions to your heart's content. The garlic is strong - surprisingly - despite the dry roasting. If you thought that udon is mostly tame fare, be prepared to have your perspective altered.
After eating the hearty bowl of udon, you can add seafood broth (dashi-yu) to your dipping sauce. I love to drink the warm soup to wash down those strong flavors. Tsukemen is heavenly!