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Udon given top billing at Go Shi Go


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POSTED: Wednesday, July 15, 2009

At Go Shi Go, waiting for the noodles to be cooked up is good for the house. The backdrop for my noodle experience was watching the movie “;Udon”; playing on a TV screen at the bar. Watching the process of noodle-making on screen, the finished bowls and patrons slurping them up is akin to watching the warm-up band before a concert headliner. By the time the real show goes on, you're already feeling the love and hungry for more.

Of course, anticipation can have the opposite effect, leading to disappointment when the encounter fails to live up to expectations. But, that does not happen here. The udon more than lives up to the fantastical, cinematic buildup it receives on screen, where the story is about a wannabe comedian, estranged from his dour, udon-making father. It's late in the film when the father reveals that there was no need to work so hard at comedy when “;one good bowl of udon is all it takes”; to make people smile.

Go Shi Go owner Hidetaka Ushiki has probably learned this lesson well, which has led him to this space — formerly Taishoken on Keeaumoku Street, across from McDonald's — where he can demonstrate his noodle-making and cutting skills in addition to serving his product, hot or cold. A cold bowl of udon may be just what you're seeking for relief from this sweltering summer.

I have a feeling this udon will be a pleasant discovery for many, mainly because udon doesn't have quite the following of its skinnier, more ubiquitous cousin, ramen. Most people here grow up with instant household ramen, so it's natural for us to continue to seek it out as a comfort food in noodle shops as well. It's also acquired cult status, thanks in part to Momofuku's David Chang, whose passion for ramen led him to extensive study in Japan.

But I've always favored the more substantial, thick and pleasantly chewy wheat-flour udon, where there's more emphasis on the noodle than broth, which here turns out to be a very light, pale mixture of dashi, mirin, bonito and soy sauce with a touch of sake.

If you're afraid a bowl of noodles won't be enough to sate your appetite, go for the special ($14.95) on the back of the menu, which has crisp shrimp and vegetable tempura, three pieces of fried chicken, pickled cabbage and white rice studded with bits of bacon and edamame, plus a bowl of hot or cold udon. The cold udon is topped with slivers of nori, green onion and tempura flakes that stray from the tempura as it cooks.

Udon can otherwise be ordered with such toppings as shrimp and vegetable tempura ($11.25), natto and soft-boiled egg ($9), ume paste and grated radish ($8.15) or avocado and shrimp ($7.95), the latter also accompanied by hard-boiled eggs, nori and fried bologna. A bowl of the plain noodles is $6.

Before getting your noodles you can munch on appetizers every bit as good as the noodles, including garlic-fried chicken ($4.95), asparagus wrapped with minced pork and sweet miso sauce, or an order of crispy deep-fried bean curd ($5.25) some filled with onion, ginger and miso paste, and some filled with cheese.

In Japan, where food's medicinal virtues are prized, this udon — also made with Hawaiian Deepsea Water, with its mineral content mostly intact — is said to enhance bodily functions leading to beautiful skin, detoxifying the body and inhibiting of allergies. I'm not sure I believe all that, but certainly, it does good for the soul.

To see a clip from the “;Udon”; movie, go to http://hsblinks.com/hm

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Nadine Kam's restaurant review appears every Wednesday in the Star-Bulletin. Restaurants are reviewed anonymously. Meals are paid by the Star-Bulletin.

GO SHI GO

903 Keeaumoku St. » 942-0545

Food ;*;*;*;*

Service ;*;*;*

Ambience ;*;*;*;1/2

Value ;*;*;*;*

Hours: 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 6 to 10 p.m. Monday through Saturday Cost: About $20 for two without drinks

Note: There is a BYOB charge of $3 for a six-pack of beer, $10 for a bottle of wine ($20 for three bottles), and $15 for one bottle of shochu, whiskey or brandy.

Ratings compare similar restaurants: ;*;*;*;* - excellent ;*;*;* - very good ;*;* - average ;* - below average