The Seto Udon shop next to Akasaka Mitsuke station is surprisingly spacious. Near major stations, standing noodle bars are what you’d expect but this one is all seated. With subtle indoor lighting, the interior avoids my pet peeve of gaudy flourescent lighting.
Along with about 10 different udon dishes, they have the requisite range of self service tempura. The service isn’t quite as machine like as stores like Tsurumaru, Hanamaru or Marugame but that’s possibly because I’ve arrived mid afternoon rather than at lunchtime. Nonetheless, the service is quick and polite with my udon assembled in about 30 seconds flat. Perhaps due to my appearance as the perennial tourist, I did get that tentative “uh oh, here comes non-Japanese speaking trouble” look (that I am quite familiar with) from the staff.
Although the cheapest items on the menu were the Zaru Udon (plain cold noodles with dipping broth) and the Bukkake Udon for 280yen, I splashed out an extra 100 yen on the the Shirasu Oroshi Udon (whitebait with grated daikon) for 380yen. In addition to the noodles, little fishies and daikon the dish also contained wakame and a wedge of lemon. Unlike some other stores, there’s no self service opportunity to pile on tenkasu or negi. They also have a couple of ‘tenpura don’ rice dishes and set meals which are a combination of a rice dish and a noodle dish.
The noodles were good and the ingredients fresh. Overall, a refreshing, satisfying meal break on a sweltering hot day.
Aside from the noodles, Seto Udon has a fancy drink dispenser that also dispenses hot and cold tea for free. The big negative if you don’t read any Japanese is that there is no accommodation for English speakers – even the name of the store was difficult to read with my elementary school kanji reading level. On the plus side, the menu is picture based so it’s easy to point. If you get confused, there are pretty much only two questions they could be asking you – do you want hot or cold noodles and whether you’d like normal size (nami) or big size (dai).
Our favorite (read: cheapest) maid cafes in Akihabara. These types of cafes are one of Japan’s pop culture icons.