Meiji Seimen is a Japanese restaurant in Costa Mesa. It’s one of the few restaurants in Orange County that specializes in udon, a noodle that’ll never get the cult following of ramen because it’s rubbery and gut-sticking when made bad and too many spots buy them premade. Thankfully, this four-year-old dive makes their noodles every day (along with soba, the other underrated Japanese noodle). Its lunchtime crowd is inevitably immigrant, because what they ultimately serve is Japanese comfort food. Daily specials come and go and are better suited for an izakaya—charred octopus one day, pickled burdock root the other, and the notoriously smelly natto (fermented soy beans) a constant.
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Meiji Seimen has so many styles of udon I've caught waiters staring at the wall during down times, trying to memorize all the specials. There are 12 on the menu, all of them classics: zaru (chilled noodles that you dip in a tangy sa...