I am always anxious whenever someone asks me to go to Fukada for lunch. Why? Well, if I am not one of the first ones already waiting in line before it opens at 11.30am, I know I will have to wait for a table. Of that I’m certain.
I am constantly concerned that someone will not arrive on time, in which case, I look like an asshole for taking up a table while waiting for my friend, all the while having the servers impatiently circle the table hoping I’d order quickly.
I guess this is why I haven’t been to Fukada in such a long time. On a recent visit, I went with my friend Cynthia who is visiting from Toronto and Mahesh. I didn’t want to be an asshole so I waited for my friends to get there before I told the server that we were ready for a table. Unfortunately, we had to wait a while but it isn’t so bad when you have others waiting with you.
The lunch special combinations are always the best way to go. For $8.95 you can choose a noodle and rice bowl, or, for a buck more, you can have the seafood salad with a rice bowl.
I have had almost everything on the lunch combo special menu and I gravitate to my usual — hot soba noodles with sansai (mountain vegetables) and a bowl of spicy tuna don with brown rice.
Fukada specializes in noodles and they make their own udon and soba. The udon is thinner than the usual ones you will find elsewhere and they also don’t have that doughy and mushy texture. Even though I’m not an udon fan, I think the one here is excellent. Still, I like soba probably because it is made from buckwheat and has a chewier texture, which I like.
The broth is hot and has a hint of sweetness to it. I like to sprinkle shichimi into my broth — lots of it — so it gives it a slight kick. The mountain vegetables are awesome, although some people like tanuki (fried tempura bits) instead.
Spicy tuna don over brown rice is my usual choice, although I’ve also had the katsu-don as well as the tempura-don. I like to ask for my tempura on the side because I don’t like soggy tempura. In fact, if you’re ordering the katsu-don, you should eat it right away because the fried pork chop gets soggy quickly because it is topped with egg — unless, you like it that way of course.
Fukada also specializes in tempura, although, on our last visit, you would never have guessed. Usually, the tempura is light and crispy but this time, it was greasy, soggy and not the least bit appetizing. I was very disappointed.
There is a a la carte menu as well, but 9 out of 10 people will order the combo both at lunch AND dinner. The dinner combo is a few dollars more, but still offers the best deal and better selection.
My only advice when going to Fukada is …. go early!
8683 Irvine Center Drive
Irvine, CA 92618