Noodling is brought to you by Super Cao Nguyen, Oklahoma City's oldest and largest international grocery store. Whether you're looking for great noodles, delicious toppings for noodles, or even non-noodle related products (as if), you can find them all at Super Cao Nguyen, 2668 N. Military Ave. in Oklahoma City.
Do you have someone in your inner circle who, without fail, orders the thing on the menu that the restaurant probably never expects anyone to order? I’m talking spaghetti at IHOP. Grilled salmon at a hole-in-the-wall diner. A bona fide Filet-O-Fish enthusiast.
My mother is one of those people. She has a distinct talent for honing in on what is often the best thing on a menu and also the most overlooked. She is literally the reason I am here today but also figuratively the reason I am here today to talk about a bowl of soup from a sushi and hibachi restaurant.
Volcano Sushi Bar & Hibachi opened its first location in Moore in 2012 and now has three additional restaurants in Del City, Norman, and Oklahoma City. The menu is HUGE—the ‘Volcano Special Rolls’ section of the sushi portion alone has somewhere around fifty different options.
Probably the only thing huger is the portion sizes for Volcano’s other namesake offering, the grilled hibachi plates, which include soup, salad, your choice of protein (from the lowly shrimp up to the filet mignon and lobster combo option), fried rice, AND noodles. It’s two portions easy, even for a very hungry person.
But I don’t want you to be that particular very hungry person! I am here to talk about the handful of people who make it past the sushi and hibachi menus and onto the modest “rice and noodles” section. So, my mom, and now me, and hopefully a few of you after reading this. That is where you will find the shrimp tempura udon soup.
It’s served in a donabe-style cooking vessel with two perfectly crispy tempura shrimp on the side, accented by a brilliant purple and presumably edible flower. (Don’t quote me on that flower part.) It has what I call the “fajita effect,” the perceived change in value and/or tastiness of what you ordered when you see that what someone else is about to eat is so much more impressive.
The soup itself is a clear, lightly flavored dashi-style broth accented with slivered cabbage, carrot, sweet peppers, green onion, and shiitake mushrooms. The udon noodles are the springy, slightly translucent variety, plumped from the heat and easy to grab with chopsticks so you can assemble a perfect little slurpable bite in your spoon. It’s topped with some floating kamaboko, those little half-moon-shaped pink-and-white fish cakes, and served with a Japanese pepper mix to add spice.
Where many of Volcano’s specialty dishes are pretty sauce-heavy or spicy, packed with strong flavors, the shrimp tempura udon soup is more chilled out. It manages to be substantial and filling—unless you can hold a concerningly significant amount of liquid, you’re likely to have leftovers—but without any of that dreaded post-meal heaviness. The decadence comes from the presentation! And, okay, also from the fried shrimp.
So go ahead. Stop into any of Volcano’s four restaurants, maybe on a Tuesday for buy one, get one half off special sushi rolls, and fajita effect your family. Do it for the noodles.
Visit Noodling sponsor Super Cao Nguyen from 9 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. every day in the heart of OKC's Asian District, 2668 N. Military Ave.