All about the noodles

Edokko II

358 Florin Rd.
Sacramento, CA 95831

(916) 395-0632

I’m not going to pretend I’ve sorted out the relationship between the now-defunct New Edokko on Broadway and the less-well-known but similarly named restaurant on Florin Road in the Pocket. I’ve seen the latter referred to (especially on the local blog Heckasac, where I heard about it) as Edokko 2, but its business card proclaims its name to be the slightly unwieldy Edokko Japanese Noodle Restaurant and Kitchen. As to the relationship with the old New Edokko, I hear that the two have nothing to do with one another. Truth be told, I don’t much care; I’m just in it for the noodles.

When it comes to Japanese food, I like sushi as much as any other red-blooded Sacramentan (well, maybe not quite as much, to judge by the enormous efflorescence of sushi joints around these parts), but I love a good bowl of noodle soup. Show me a place where I can get a bowl of soba in dashi, and I’ll show you a happy restaurant-goer. New Edokko made a tasty enough noodle bowl, but I’m happy to report that my new friends at this Edokko make better soup.

We went for lunch on a recent cold day and I had a big, steaming vat of mabo ramen, plainly modeled on Chinese ma po tofu. Full of chunks of wobbly tofu floating in a lightly spicy broth, together with ground pork, it was perfect on a cold day with the north wind blowing. The flavoring of the broth included a hint of sesame oil, as well as the mild spice, but the real triumph was the ramen noodles, kinked and toothsome and perfectly cooked.

The bowl of noodles was enough to bring me back over and over, even though the rest of the meal was more mixed. We started off with nice mugs of green tea—always enjoyable—that we sipped while deciding from the long menu. Edokko is not necessarily a space for lingering; it’s a relatively bare-bones, boxy strip-mall space, enlivened slightly by knickknacks hung on the wall and some colorful, if slightly dusty, paper lanterns. Nevertheless, it was busy with a hungry lunch crowd on our visit.

That crowd must have eaten up all the spinach. I ordered a side of ohitashi (cooked spinach with bonito flakes) on the side with my soup, but unfortunately the kitchen had run out. Instead, I got onigiri, two chunky triangles of rice filled with salty preserved plum paste, wrapped in seaweed and accompanied by lurid yellow half-moons of pickled daikon. I liked them, especially the tangy flavor of the plum paste, though it was hard to know how to eat them: The big wads of rice tended to stick in the mouth a bit.

Also on the rice front, my husband had ordered a spicy-tuna roll from the simple sushi menu. You won’t find wild squiggles of mayo-based sauces or architectural sushi creations at Edokko, but they do have some fish offerings. The spicy-tuna roll had no spicy sauce at all. Instead, it was simply a tuna roll (with a hefty, fresh piece of fish) thickly sprinkled with zingy togarashi (a Japanese chili-flakes blend). Sometimes spicy-tuna rolls, with the fish disguised in sauce, can seem like a way of using up scraps of tuna, so this was a nice change of pace.

My husband also got a fairly basic bento box from among the many well-priced lunch specials. (He was going to order it off the dinner menu, but the server, who was both efficient and congenial, steered him toward the smaller lunch option, which was significantly cheaper but not much smaller.) He chose teriyaki chicken and tempura. The latter was a little on the oily side, though the vegetables and shrimp within were nicely cooked and the fried batter itself had a clean flavor. I liked the lightly sweet, starchy white sweet-potato tempura slice.

The teriyaki was a touch odd in that its sauce was thicker and less distinctive than most teriyaki I’ve encountered. Opaque and reddish, it almost seemed like a bland tomato-based barbecue sauce rather than snappy, gingery teriyaki. The chicken itself was well cooked, however. The side salad with the bento came with an unappetizingly orange, gloppy dressing. Both of us got a tiny side dish of pickled-cabbage salad and a bowl of slightly sweet miso soup before the meal.

Not surprisingly, Edokko’s dessert options are few (a board listed mochi and green-tea ice cream), so we skipped it, especially as we already were taking home a sizeable amount of leftovers. Those noodle bowls aren’t small, and they’re the best reason to go to Edokko. There are seemingly dozens of types, and it was not easy to choose just one; despite being happy with my own choice, I looked on in envy at other tables enjoying thick udon and other noodles. As winter wears on, I’m looking forward to exploring more of the menu.