FOOD TRUCK QUICK BITE: ODANG UDON..IT'S NOODLE TIME!
Nothing like swinging through SOMA's StrEat Food Park when it's chilly outside. With the heated indoor seating you can grab a quick bite and nestle in from the cold. That's what me and the SO decided to do one evening and what better way to brace for briskness than with a warm noodle bowl! Seemed like a good enough reason to tuck in with Odang Udon. They are a mostly regular truck there but we'd never actually tried them, so what better time than now.
Honestly, I'm not the biggest noodle fan. It's pretty much a pasta, something I usually just skipped, unless of course I was in Italy. But I was game to warm up with something akin to chicken noodle. Though, we wanted to kick things off with something deep fried and pork.
Pork gyoza to be specific, little deep fried pot sticker things. They cooked these to order making them hot and crispy. They were somewhere between a wonton and a pot sticker. More filling than one but less than the other. Once meet is ground, to me they sort of all taste the same. Not bad by any means, but also not really remarkable. Added flavor usually comes with dipping in the soy sauce. Basically these are perfectly fine if you want something a little meaty and deep fried. For some reason they also threw in some tempura'd veggies, kind of a surprise. Zucchini and sweet potatoes. They were nice, very crispy, not too greasy and hey, it was eating vegetables. Win, win!
This is the classic udon with fresh made noodles, dashi, tempura flakes, mushrooms and green onions for $8. I also went ahead and paid the $1 up charge for a fried egg. May as well go all the way. I will say upfront, I'm not sure I would know really good udon from just kind of average udon. For the basics of what this was, it was tasty enough. Warm, soothing broth that wasn't too salty and noodles that were soft and not sticky. For me, I felt I needed more crispy bits as the fried tempura bits sogged up quickly. Maybe if they were served on the side and we could sprinkle over it as needed? The egg didn't really add all that much for me. It was fried hard, thus the yolk wasn't able to run out over stuff like I was hoping for. This is sort of a little like chicken noodle soup without the chicken. While I won't say we were really bowled over by it, on this day, in this instance, in this weather, it was good enough.
For the second bowl we decided to go a little different and got the garlic noodles with karaage chicken (fried chicken bits), zucchini, shredded paremsan (yes cheese) and a spicy sweet sauce for $10. I wasn't sure whether the sauce was for dipping or pouring over the whole thing. I ended up just pouring it all over the top. Well, this was interesting. The noodles were very garlicky. Without the dashi, they also came off a tad sticky and, weirdly, dry when eaten with the chicken. There just wasn't enough sauce to make up for the lack of liquid. I ended up pouring in a little of the broth from the other bowl in and it definitely helped. It's not that anything here tasted bad on its own, I'm just not sure it worked altogether. Though, maybe it just needed the right sauce with it. Not necessarily dashi, or the sweet spicy thing they give you, it was a bit much. There are the bones of a tasty dish here, it just needs a re-think possibly. Not bad, just not quite there for me.
Pricing and size wise, the bowls are pretty full, and for a food truck, I'll call it on par with the quantity you get. As for the rest, I'll call it a toss up. Some things we enjoyed enough, others, just eh. I would say stick to the bowls with the broth as that is the classic version and works better for the noodles than without. The fried stuff is also decent, not greasy and cooked to order so it will be hot. Whether this is really good udon or not, I couldn't really say since noodle bowls are really my thing. But if it's a chilly day, like most have been recently, and they are the closest option to a warm bowl of soup you can find at the StrEat Food Park, I'd say why not. At least it will be value for the money.