Udon Time, San Francisco
What’s the buzz: Udon Time is the third dedicated udon restaurant to open recently in the San Francisco area, following Taro San Japanese Noodle Bar and Marugame Udon. Udon definitely feels like it’s trending and is likely to take over some of ramen’s market share. Udon Time comes from the Omakase Restaurant group, who run several Japanese concepts, including a Michelin-starred sushi restaurant and a dumpling diner.
Spotlighted dish: Nobody is doing vegetarian udon like this:
Shiitake mushroom dashi (stock), corn, sweet tomatoes and carrot are served up with the signature noodles, which are made in-house and aged overnight to give a softer texture.
Sai Gon Dep, New York
What’s the buzz: Sai Gon Dep is the new solo venture of Vietnamese chef John Nguyen, who was the opening chef of the enormously popular Hanoi House in the East Village. He had a contentious split with the place and disappeared from the scene for a while, but fans of his cooking were wondering where he would pop up again.
Spotlighted dish: Like Hanoi House, the focus here is on pho, but John’s best one is made with chicken rather than the more commonly found beef pho. In addition to a fabulous broth, he must really want to remind the diners that they use every part of the chickens, because one can order a bowl of the pho with the head and feet garnishing the bowl!
Ditto for the beef pho, which comes with a big ol’ bone.
Sacro, Buenos Aires
What’s the buzz: It’s a vegan restaurant, which makes it a bold opening in Argentina’s meat-loving capital. Its menu has plenty of Asian flavours, and LA-based chef Matthew Kenney, a vegan celebrity chef, was involved in "pre-opening consulting," according to the Sacro team.
Spotlighted dish: Too many to just name one! Roast carrot, sauerkraut and mustard bao (pictured above); Thai wraps with almond paté and tamarind salsa; sweet potato noodles with carrot, ginger and togarashi (chilli pepper) sauce.