Inside UDN: how an Emirati pilot started Abu Dhabi’s first udon noodle house
Rashed Al Fahim launched the restaurant after developing a love for the noodles during his many trips to Japan
Abu Dhabi residents no longer have to travel far to get their fill of freshly made udon noodles.
UDN, the emirate’s first venue dedicated to the staple Japanese noodle, launched last week, giving residents plenty of access to the popular comfort food.
The restaurant serves a number of specialty Japanese dishes such as traditional ramen and milk cake. Also on the menu are gyoza, edamame and tempura shrimp.
However, it’s the humble udon noodles that hold pride of place. The curry UDN, made with coconut milk, has been made especially for the local palate, while the UDN chicken katsu and the traditional UDN with Wagyu are also signatures.
For the uninitiated, udon are a type of thick noodle made from wheat flour and typically served in a broth. They are widely hailed as a key comfort food in Japan thanks to their unique texture and flavour.
However, according to UDN's Emirati founder Rashed Al Fahim, the authentic flavour and texture can only be delivered when the noodles are made fresh – only a few hours before they’re served. When he realised that he did not know a single Abu Dhabi venue that made udon noodles in-house, he decided to set one up himself.
“I have spent most of my professional career as a commercial pilot and have had the privilege of regularly flying to Japan, which is where I developed a love for authentic udon noodles,” he tells The National.
“I’ve not been able to find udon as authentic as I have experienced in Japan anywhere else, so as soon as I had the opportunity to open UDN here in my home, I went for it. UDN is a project that I have been thinking about for a very long time so it is a dream come true to see it officially open and serve traditional udon.”
The restaurant enlisted experts from Japan to train its chefs on the art of perfecting the noodles and the signature broth. Despite it being focused on a single ingredient, Fahim says the menu is anything but restrictive, with the versatile quality of the noodle being a key reason.
“The process was challenging at first because noodle-making really is an art, but it was a lot of fun," he says.
"The possibilities with this dish are endless. We will slowly add more dishes to the menu and we will always listen to customer feedback and strive to give them what they crave.”
Open daily, noon to 11pm; Old Airport Road, Showroom 1, Abu Dhabi; 02 441 3037, instagram.com/udn.ae
Updated: May 26, 2021 01:09 PM