In the industrial part of the city of Kurashiki, Japan, there’s a nondescript gray shed whose exterior reveals little of the brothy delights of noodles and nourishment that lie within. Little, that is, aside from the lines that form predawn for a bowl of this family-run establishment’s breakfast offerings.
Matsuka Seimen operates mainly as a noodle factory. But between 6:00 and 7:00 a.m. and from 11:30 a.m. to 1:15 p.m. every day (except Tuesday), it transforms into a noodle shack, ladling out bowls of freshly-cooked udon, made on site and dunked in steaming broth, topped with fresh garnishes such as a cracked raw egg, scallions, and house-made chili oil. They also make their own ramen, soba, and buckwheat noodles. Of note on the menu is soba noodles in a green tea broth. Offerings such as curry ramen, ramen in soy sauce with fatty slivers of pork, and a simple bowl of fresh-cooked udon with just a smattering of the house chili oil are served out of the factory’s minuscule kitchen. According to a piece on Medium, those in the know order kamatama, a bowl of square-cut, thick udon, boiled and served hot with nothing more than a raw egg. The egg creates a saucy base for the noodles, and cooks in the noodles’ own steam. A condiment station offers tempura flakes, chopped scallions, soy sauce, and fresh ginger so that customers can create their own noodle flavor profile.
As customers line the narrow hallways of the factory to order their noodle bowl, they can witness the Matsuka family making a variety of noodles on site. Particularly unique is the kneading technique for the dough: A tray of dough is covered in a clean cloth, then a family member wears fresh socks and walks all over it.
Although the factory operates as a makeshift restaurant for less than three hours every day, Matsuka Seimen’s fans wait patiently for a taste. There’s a small patio on the factory grounds with a few tables and benches where one can enjoy their meal.
Know Before You Go
The factory is closed on Tuesdays.