Ronald Liu considers udon an underdog.
“Ramen has been wildly popular, but at the same time udon is the younger brother gaining popularity,” he said.
Liu, along with his partner, Jessica Chiep, want to put udon front and center with their new restaurant Love Art Udon, which will open on Monday at noon in Packard’s Corner. As the owners of Love Art Sushi, a fast-casual spot near Berklee College of Music known for its sushi, chirashi, and poke bowls, they’re hoping that the next installment in their Love Art brand proves to be just as successful.
Love Art Udon will specialize in both udon and tempura, offering a customizable dining experience where guests will be able to choose from five udon bowls — original, curry, miso, NE Chowdah, and zaru — with the option to add beef and onion to each one. The restaurant’s staff will create these bowls in the first half of an assembly line, while in the second half, diners will be able to serve themselves with tempura that ranges from $2 to $3 apiece. Tempura will be offered in the form of vegetables (asparagus, sweet potato, zucchini), standard items (Japanese pumpkin, kanikama, shrimp), and premium picks (spam, whitefish, potato croquettes). Drinks will include lilikoi fresca, yuzu citrus jasmine tea, and matcha tea, all of which will be made in-house.
“The idea is that we’re bringing everything you’d expect from a high-class food establishment — the food is great, the customer service has to be great — but the culture has to be fun and new and modern, and [it has to be] a chill place to hang out without feeling stuffy,” Liu said. “We’re showcasing foods that are traditionally enjoyed, but giving them a bigger voice.”
The Boston area isn’t exactly a stranger to excellent udon. Cambridge’s Yume Ga Arukara — which literally only serves udon — was named one of Bon Appetit’s 10 best new restaurants in America this year. But Liu noted that, unlike more formal udon shops, Love Art Udon will have more of a Sweetgreen vibe, where you can come for a casual solo meal, enjoy a couple bowls with a friend, or pick something up to go when you’re in a rush.
As the name implies, art plays a big role in the Love Art brand. At Love Art Udon, local artist Jin Hayato has painted a mural behind the bar depicting Tokyo subway cars, which gives the restaurant a Tokyo subway station vibe, Liu said. The plan is to also have Boston artists showcase their work on a rotating basis, as they do at Love Art Sushi.
Liu and Chiep aren’t planning to stop at sushi and udon, either.
“We’ll be opening more Love Art [restaurants], moving into different food segments but still carrying that identity,” Liu said, noting that he can’t share exactly what’s coming next, but that yet another restaurant will be opening in the summer, one that maintains Love Art’s Japanese-, Korean-, and Hawaiian-influences.
While regular hours are still being sorted out, Love Art Udon will officially be open to the public on Monday from noon to 8 p.m.
Love Art Udon, 1024 Commonwealth Ave.; loveartudon.com