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Udon for Olympic appetites

While we’re pulling out the late night snacks during this final week of triple toe loops and split-second finishes at the Vancouver Olympics, contenders like Alpine skier Lindsey Vonn and speed skater Apolo Ohno are fueling up for their next competitions. What are the athletes eating this year? According to Delish, certain foods are popular no matter what the athlete’s country of origin. Staples include pasta, pizza, and even McDonald’s (we’re hoping their trainers have seen Super Size Me), but also Asian-inspired dishes such as build-your-own udon noodle bowls. With so many great Japanese restaurants specializing in udon noodles in the LA area, we might just grab a bowl before or after tonight’s competition ourselves.

Suehiro Café

This Little Tokyo spot has been serving up affordable udon until the wee hours for too many Olympics to count. It’s open until 1 a.m. on weeknights and 3 a.m. on weekends, so you can slide in after the last figure skaters have left the ice on Wednesday night.

337 E. 1st St., Little Tokyo, 213.626.9132

Iccho

Many are drawn to the huge, family-pleasing menu at this shopping-center stop, but it’s the udon with tempura battered shrimp paired with a Japanese beer that we think really satisfies in the early morning hours. It’s open nightly until 2 a.m.

25310 Crenshaw Blvd., Torrance, 310.325.7273

Kansai

A little pricier than some, but it’s hard to beat for a between-events bite (open until 9:30 p.m.) due to the homemade noodles and the variety of udon styles. Vegetarians can get their Osaka-style udon with spinach in a vegetable broth, too— a tricky find at many noodle shops.

36 S. Fair Oaks Ave., Pasadena, 626.564.1560

Marukai Pacific Market

If you’re the type who can’t miss a minute of Olympics coverage, you can grab a decent bowl to go  from Gen-Pei in this market’s food court to heat up later. Stop by Beard Papa’s in the same court for a few cream puffs (no better excuse than the Olympics for a multicultural meal).

1620 W. Redondo Beach Blvd., Gardena, 310.464.888

Mitsuwa

Or, if you’re staying in, why not make a big pot of broth for a week’s worth of different udons—vegetable one night, chicken the next— on the cheap? You’ll find everything you need from dried kombu (kelp) for the broth to dozens of noodle styles at your closest Mitsuwa Japanese market. Here’s a great primer and recipe to get you started.

3760 Centinela Ave., Santa Monica, 310.398.2113 and 21515 Western Ave., Torrance, 310.782.0335, mitsuwa.com

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