My First Taste of Onya Japanese Noodles


I was pretty excited when the company that owns Beard Papa announced that they would be bringing the Onya Japanese Noodle chain to the US. Admittedly I’ve never been to Osaka, so I’m not really the best person to confirm or refute their claim of being the very first udon spot in New York City to offer freshly made Osaka style udon… but it sounded good enough!  And unlike Udon West, which is just a block away on 46th btw. Lex+3rd, their menu seems far less interested in dumbing things down for the Western customer.


I have to admit, my first trip to Onya was not exactly ideal. I had seen their menu before going, and that menu had photos of each of the items- but you’d be surprised how unhelpful those photos can be to a first time Udon eater (udon from generic delis doesn’t count.)


To make matters worse, I completely missed the giant poster in the front of the store explaining what each of the soups were. (A highly recommended read for the udon virgins.)


Thankfully they were offering a Grand Opening Special… order any size bukkake udon, and get one free tempura topping.  Well, that made my choice easier! I think I have heard of bukkake [nsfw], but have never had bukkake Udon before… but whatever.  Free tempura!


I went with the medium size, so I could order more tempura- which cost $1 each as add ons to any soup, provided you order at least two (done and done.)   I went with the shrimp (big money item, that’s how I do it!), eggplant, and veggie thingy. I was there kind of late in the day, so the tempura was on the cold side- but whatever. It’s still good!  And considering that the same tempura costs twice as much at a place like Chiyoda Sushi, I ain’t complaining.


The bukkake was interesting, but less bowl of soup than noodles with a small amount of broth at the bottom.  It came topped with grated daikon, shredded seaweed and scallions, and the combo of all the flavors was clean, and delicious.  But if you’re looking for a big bowl of soup, this is not it.


For that you’ll have to go with the Sanuki Kake Udon, which I tried on my second visit (after reading the descriptions this time.)  Once again I went with the medium, so that I could add three pieces of tempura to my order without going over the Midtown Lunch price limit.  The broth was salty, and flavorful, and while not a revelation- it was a good bowl of soup for $5.  Clearly the selling point is the noodles which are perfectly chewy- and a welcome contrast to the completely overcooked mushy udon you get at all the delis in Midtown that dare to offer “udon”.


Once again I got there on the late side, so the tempura was cold- but I’m sure the chicken, squid, and pumpkin taste far better if you get there before 1pm. (Although if you can’t decide, the first three I tried were much better than these three.)


They also have a little station between the check out and the seating area where you can add hot pepper and tempura crunchies to your soup!  (Who doesn’t like tempura crunchies???)


I can’t say for sure if the udon at Onya is better than the version at Udon West, but I like the concept better. I will always take  ordering at a counter over ordering from a waiter (save on tip!), and Onya has their assembly line down pretty well at this point.  And there’s a great seating area in the back- although it probably fills up pretty quick during peak lunch times.  But what I like the most is that you have a lot of options to customizing the size of your lunch.


You have three options for bowl size… the small (who the hell would order this?!?), the medium (decent size if you plan on adding on a ton of tempura), and the large (a normal size bowl of soup.)


And the whole tempura thing just puts it over the top.  I love the variety of options, and the fact that you can add as many as you want to your order piece by piece.

I think I’ll need to go back and try the curry udon and the beef udon before giving this place the full +/- but I will say this… if you are looking for a ramen style of soup, filled with all sorts of meat and goodies- this is probably not the place for you.  The soups are pretty minimalist, and more about the noodles than anything else.  Plus ordering the versions with meat get this place dangerously close to not being a Midtown Lunch.  In fact, even though the menu looks cheap enough… I can see how lunch could get expensive trying to replicate the amount of food you get at a Midtown ramen joint.

Of course this is udon, not ramen… and if you’re down with udon, I would recommend checking it out.  Can any Osaka udon specialists weigh in on how close this comes to the cheap versions of udon you can get in Japan? Put your thoughts in the comments…

Onya, 143 East 47th St. (btw. Lex+3rd) 212-715-0460


  • I guess everyone is different but I left super hungry(ordered med). I don’t see what’s a big deal. The texture of noodle was good but not significantly different than any other Japanese udon places that make from frozen udon. I wasn’t expecting a big bowl of ramen but come on, few strands of noodles with half cup of broth and they have a nerve to charge $7??
    I can make better udon noodle soup at home.

  • Zach, did you get bukkake all over your face?

  • Other than the off-putting Bukkake, this place, by far has the best Udon in the city.

  • The curry’s broth is the best from what I’ve tried so far. And I don’t find the tempura all that great, I just get a large bowl of the Udon. And I leave full too, which is nice.

  • o boy, ive seen bukkake udon in tokyo and thot it was a joke…hmm rich in proteins.

  • lmao, I never knew Bukkake had any relation to actual food.

  • @vdubjb …….LOL ME EITHER YUCK!
    i def had to read that sentence over 3x to make sure i was reading it correctly.

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    Did they not know what bukkake means to your average internet-browsing American? I’m trying to decide whether or not to laugh…

  • are you guys in like HS? focus on food..not on your japanese fantasy.

  • looks like somebody had a bad bukkake experience and doesn’t like other people joking about it.

  • My local Food Lion was running packages of ‘ramen’ for like ten cents — yep, TEN CENTS. Now, since I am obviously not a japanese food aficionado, I would guess that ‘udon’ must be a whole bunch better.

    Then a friend of mine told me what HER experience with ‘bukkake’ was, explaining to me that it is not, in one sense of the word, normal japanese food.

    NOW, I remember why my wife and I have not eaten in an asian restaurant for, let me think, OH YEAH, at least 25 years.

    Carry on, ONYA.

  • Authentic udon in general is very subtle in seasoning, doubt most of you folks here would grow to like it.

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    It’s interesting that Zach and many others dwell on the soup part of the udon or ramen or whatever.


    The soup is there to give flavor to the noodles. Obviously, you might sip a bit of the soup to get more flavor, but if you eat a udon or ramen bowl as if it were a western bowl of soup — i.e., drinking all of the liquid contents of the bowl — you’d be eating an insane amount of sodium.

  • @ “tnagumo”:

    I guess I am totally fucking confused: ” …if it were a western bowl of soup . . .”

    Sorry, but what is wrong with a “western (sic) bowl of soup”, and why should a bowl of soup (at least as prepared here in the United States of America) be so loaded with asian salts and chemicals that the “soup” would be borderline toxic?

    Inquiring American minds want to know.

  • So Zach – when did it become permissible in the comments area of this website to use language like that used by DocChuck in the comment previous to this one?

  • Or – has it always been permissible? Maybe I made a bad assumption based on the policies of most other food blogs

  • I like this place, but i don’t get y everyone likes to dunk their tempura in the soups… doesn’t that make it soggy? isn’t crunchy better? or am I crazy?!

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    I never said there was anything wrong with what I termed “western” soup. Perhaps I didn’t express myself well. I was just pointing out that the way we consume ramen and udon is different from the way non-Japanese do. We consider the noodles to be the main part of the dish; my observation has been that non-Japanese (mainly American, since I’ve lived here most of my life) consider the soup the main component.
    I might also be very sensitive to the sodium issue because I’ve had fleeting high blood pressure issues. I do think, though, that when we eat cuisinesnot of your own culture or background, you’ll want to keep in mind and, even better, emulate it so you can have the full experience.

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    Ugh. The last sentence should read:
    I do think, though, that when we eat cuisines not of your own culture or background, you’ll want to keep in mind how it’s eaten (with what condiments, what proportions, etc.) and, even better, emulate it so you can have the full experience.

  • Went today with a buddy for lunch– we both had the sanuki with the mixed vegetable tempura. I am not a huge udon noodle guy in general, but I must say that this was AWESOME for a quick noodle fix. The broth was flavorful, with a nice layer of silky fat (sounds so much better than grease, doesn’t it?) floating on the top of the broth. The noodles were thick and gummy without being chewy– perfect.

    I want some of those broad-based spoons for my apartment…

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