Marugame Udon chain opens first European restaurant in east London
- Credit: Jamie Orlando Smith
Japanese udon noodle chain Marugame Udon has taken a site close to Liverpool Street.
The restaurant is all about Sanuki udon, famous from the Kagawa prefecture in Japan.
Marugame launched in 2000 and has more than 800 restaurants across the globe.
The newest branch in Europe is in London, seats 100 and is nestled right in the centre of Middlesex Street where one is likely to see long queues of diners.
The noodles are made in house and the flour and machine are imported from Japan. On arrival, we were greeted by friendly staff and thanks to the open plan kitchen, we could see our noodles being made fresh with just three humble ingredients – salt, flour and water.
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There are some dishes that are exclusive to London such as the pork tonkotsu and a new vegan section which is a first for the Marugame group.
Intrigued by the photo on the menu, I picked up a tray and decided to order the traditional and wallet friendly kamaage udon.
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The piping-hot noodles were served in a bowl straight from the kama pot, with a side of dashi broth and a leaflet of instructions on the purest manner of consuming udon.
Each firm noodle is dipped into the accompanying broth (a choice of vegan or fish) and a recommendation of adding fresh ginger and spring onions to the dashi – which I did and enjoyed the even balance of sharp and sweet flavours.
There are other dishes on offer including kimchi udon, chicken katsu curry udon, rice bowls, nori seaweed wraps and an impressive, vast selection of crisp tempura.
Though the vegetarian options accompanied my udon well, the shrimp tempura was a winner with its delicate texture.
It was also brought to my attention that head chef Kouhei Honkawa was sent to the UK on a one-way ticket from Japan to create the perfect vegan tempura batter and fully train his staff who refer to him as the ‘udon blackbelt’.
For drinks, we were spoilt for choice with Asahi beer on draught, wine, green tea, kombucha and craft sake from Kanpai brewery.
The decor features wooden panels, some works by talented Japanese-UK based Manga illustrator Chie Kutsuwada and bright noodle lights strung on the ceiling creating a nice touch. There is also an interactive element on one of the walls giving Londoners a true taste of Japan that involves changing the digital wallpaper through a smartphone.
Marugame UK is located at 114 Middlesex Street, Spitalfields, and currently operates on a walk-in basis. Open all week from Monday to Sunday from midday to 9pm. For more details, visit https://marugame.co.uk