8.72

8.72: Tsurumaru Udon Honpo

The wooded and fully indoor entrance to Tsurumaru Udon Honpo in Little Tokyo. Photo by Dan Johnson.

The wooded and fully indoor entrance to Tsurumaru Udon Honpo in Little Tokyo. Photo by Dan Johnson.

by Dan Johnson

Bukkake. Even the word slaps you across the face.

Any thirteen-year-old American male with unrestricted Internet access can tell you what it is. Bukkake is the extreme in pornographic degradation. It is a practice outclassed only by snuff films. Known jokingly as a “Japanese team building exercise,” the submissive stunt is a protein-rich punch line.

It is also not the sort of descriptor you expect to encounter in a neighborhood mall, even when that mall is the Little Tokyo Galleria. But there it is in all its glory: Bukkake Udon.

Travel up two sets of escalators past the visage of that winking fiend Beard Papa. Pass the Asahi stained halls of Max Karaoke. Make a B-line for pin-clattering X Lanes. There on your right, you’ll find Tsurumaru Udon Honpo: Homemade Japanese Noodles & Tempura.

Information on the picture menu is sparse but accurate: the Bukkake Udon comes served with dried bonito, grated radish and ginger in Japanese source. All of this for five measly dollars.

Five dollars gets you a suggestively named noodle dish with dried bonito, radish, ginger and who knows what other ingredients. Photo by Johnson. 

Five dollars gets you a suggestively named noodle dish with dried bonito, radish, ginger and who knows what other ingredients. Photo by Johnson. 

I am unfamiliar with bukkake protocol. Do I pay to eat the bukkake or does the giver pay for the privilege of watching me chow down? Tack this on to the long list of questions I have about the bizarre practice.

For clarification, I turn to the very source of our perverse predicament: the Internet. After spending a few minutes carefully studying some obtuse video footage, I am no further along in my quest for enlightenment.

Urban Dictionary has a curious surplus of definitions including one that describes the giving party as being up to 50 men large. Another entry jauntily uses sex-ed jargon to elucidate the activity as “when a Mommy and a Daddy and a Daddy and a Daddy and a Daddy and a Daddy and a Daddy all decide that Mommy needs some special facial moisturizer.”

Per Edward Snowden, these are textbook search queries you should avoid plugging into to your smart phone. Alas, I am already down this Elmer’s Glue factory post-explosion rabbit hole.

I’m beginning to sweat profusely. The man who took my order did not make strong eye contact. He knows damn well what’s about to go down. The woman in the back making homemade udon noodles appears tense and uncomfortable. A man dines with his two young children in a booth by the window. Do they know what’s about to go down? The bright Stan Getz/Dave Brubeck music pumping through the house speakers does not foretell of imminent debauchery.

One final click on the World Wide Web spells instant relief. Bukkake, as it turns out, is a verb meaning “to splash (with a liquid) rudely.” It’s just another neologism by which a banal bit of phraseology has mutated into something ugly the same way American folks of an older generation describe an outburst of speech as an “ejaculation” and wild parties as “orgies.”

They call my order—lucky number 800. I begin to understand the “bukkake” element when slippery noodles, bonito, ginger and radish are rudely splashed with a ladle full of house stock. Ahhh, yes. Many apologies. I throw a spoon full of complimentary onions on the whole affair and proceed to chow down.

I would describe my first bukkake experience as pleasant and filling. I could have done without the bonito. Dried flakes of mackerel-esque fish skin add an unwelcome, tongue-coating texture to the meal. The noodles, however, were virtuosic. I slurped and swallowed greedily, careful at bowl’s end to consume every last drop of broth. “Take all you want, but eat all you take” is how I was raised.

The author's first bukkake experience – both pleasant and filling. Photo by Dan Johnson.

The author's first bukkake experience – both pleasant and filling. Photo by Dan Johnson.

I opted to wash down my bukkake with a two-dollar order of vegetable tempura. Upon arrival, I did not detect vegetables plural, only onion, which is fine. The cylinder of batter-fried tear inducers tasted like a Japanese bloomin’ onion. I would heartily recommend it as a palette cleanser.

Seven dollars poorer but nutritionally satiated, I bid my hosts adieu and walked around X Lanes where I was disturbed to find only one video game with a toy gun attached to it. What has this country come to?

Later, I paused at one of many open seats ringing the mall’s third floor terrace. I watched a steady stream of locals go on about their Saturday morning business while I pondered what had just transpired. I can’t say bukkake udon will become an every week thing for me—it is not comfort food. Then again, the value was prodigious and the freshness of the bowl was unparalleled.

I give Tsurumaru Udon Honpo a textbook “1” on the binary and politely ask them not to acknowledge me on the street.

Give your taste buds a face full of Bukkake Udon at Little Tokyo Galleria, 333 Alameda St.