I loved the rusticity and brilliance of the Fukushima straw-wrapped tofu but after I made it the other day, I thought of this modern Japanese twist on an Italian pasta dish. Vongole udon is something I order at Musha, an izakaya in Santa Monica, California. It’s a boisterous Tokyo-style (read non-traditional) drinking establishment where you can get great bar nibbles and pitchers of beer for about $12.
Musha’s menu is full of crazy concoctions, such as the “Tofu World” menu page, where I discovered the tofu fries that are included in Asian Tofu. There’s a risotto made with medium-grain brown rice and stirred tableside in a giant wheel of Parmesan before it’s served to diners. Their pickled mackerel is torched tableside for a little show.
Along with the fries and fried chicken, we always order the “Vongole udon.” It’s a slightly brothy bowl filled with chewy soft udon, garlic, a hint of butter, fresh mushroom and lots of clams. Instead of parsley, Musha garnishes with cilantro.