Who would suspect that two of the best noodle shops in town are right next door to each other in Gardena? The first of them, Kotohira, has a long and esteemed following. The udon is made on-site, and the kindhearted yet mischievous server boasts as she serves our complimentary potato salad that they serve 20 different noodles. Udon is a thick, slippery flour noodle either served cold for dipping or in a hot broth.
The two specialties at Kotohira are Shoyu Udon: Tempura lace, dried bonito shavings, green onion and ginger. Unlike the other udons it is served with just a little bit of sauce instead of the hot broth. The other specialty is the pricier Udon-Suki dinner for two or more diners: Crab, chicken, vegetables and udon served in a hot broth.
There are a number of combinations with choices from tempura to tendon. Your main choice is between the udon noodles and soba buckwheat noodles. I usually order Nabeyaki Udon, with shrimp tempura, chicken, shiitake mushrooms, greens, an egg and kamaboko, a slice of fish cake that my friend refers to as fish bologna. I love that it is de regeur to slurp your noodles, but I have to admit I have left more than once with a stippling of teensy burns across my chest from the spattering hot broth. So worth it.