It seems like there’s no stopping Chef Teppei Yamashita as he recently launched his first udon speciality eatery, Fu-Men, at the basement of the Hong Leong Building (he also just opened his first ramen stall earlier this year).
This isn’t just another udon restaurant though – it’s also in the midst of being halal-certified (yay to inclusivity!). So while that’s pending, just take note that you won’t find any pork on the menu.
Fu-Men specialises in Hakata-style udon that hails from Fukuoka and is distinguished by its use of thick and slightly chewy noodles. It’s a little hard to locate, as it’s right in the corner of the basement that’s filled with other eateries, but you’ll find it soon enough!
After skimming through the menu, I decided on three eye-catching dishes, with the first being the White Laksa ($7 for half, $12 for regular).
I have never tried a Japanese interpretation of laksa, so I was looking forward to tasting how this familiar local flavour would go with a different noodle type.
It comes with a generous spoonful of laksa paste so you can decide how gao you want the flavour of your laksa to be. I opted for a third of the spoon.
The flavour was pretty spot-on, however, the texture of the gravy proved to be too thick for my liking. After a few spoonfuls, I was already starting to feel sick of it. I reckon the density and chewiness of the udon made it extra filling.
Also, I wish they used fresher ingredients as opposed to the peppering of frozen shrimp found in the bowl. I felt the only reason why I managed to polish off half the bowl was mainly because I added sufficient laksa paste in to make it pretty delicious.
The next dish I went for was a bold choice, given that it’s a cold dish. I ordered the Bukkake Yam ($5 for half, $8 for regular) and was told that the yam they use here is from Japan and is similar to Wai San yam.
To get the most out of this dish, you’re recommended to add your preferred seasoning and amount of bukkake sauce (made from dashi base) from their condiment counter, which I gladly did.
I went with the cold bukkake sauce and was advised to not be stingy with the amount. Its salty taste apparently helps bring the entire dish together (plus yam doesn’t have much flavour on its own).
Then I proceeded to add other condiments like seaweed flakes, spring onions, tempura bits and even a dash of yuzu chilli.
After giving all the ingredients a good stir, I took my first bite and it actually took me awhile to register if I liked it or not. The texture was gooey before it became chewy, but then the crunch from the tempura kicked in and it became quite enjoyable to consume.
The bukkake sauce was quite strong, but I suppose it needed to be for the entire bowl to not be bland. I highly recommend a dose of the yuzu chilli for some heat and to lend the dish some acidity.
It took a few bites for me to really start to appreciate it but soon enough, I could get over the slightly slimy texture and really enjoy the Bukkake Yam.
A must-order here is the Goboten ($6). It’s tempura-battered burdock root that comes in a hefty portion, enough for two to share. They do have the Gobo Udon ($7 for half, $12 for regular) as well, but having three bowls of udon was way too much for me to handle.
It comes with a dipping broth that’s made by boiling and simmering four kinds of fish (Chef kept mum about the types of fishes) for several hours. It was intensely savoury and amazingly addictive!
I wish I could’ve stuffed my face in the bowl and gulped it all down. The burdock root itself had a rather woody taste, but was easily toned down with the richness of the dipping broth.
With so many Japanese speciality places popping up, it’s hard to keep up. But the one thing that’ll get your money’s worth here is indeed their tempura-battered burdock root, and I also recommend trying the cold version of the Bukkake Yam as least once!
Expected damage: $5 – $15 per pax