Marugame Udon is big in Japan, and it’s bound to be big in London too.
Spitalfields is rapidly turning into the place to be for foodies this summer. Not only did a massive Italian food hall open on Broadgate this spring, but now one of Japan’s favourite noodle houses has brought bowls of warming, chewy udon to town. Marugame Udon has chosen the capital as its first European outpost, and since they’re renowned as udon and tempura masters, we’re pretty damn glad they did.
For those who’ve never had them before (you’re missing out, FYI!), udon noodles are thick wheat-based noodles, and one of the most popular dishes in Japanese cuisine. In fact, Marugame Udon brags that 150 million bowls of udon are consumed in their Asia and US restaurants every year – and London is likely to add plenty more to that total. Using the Sanuki udon tradition, Marugame Udon continues a heritage stretching back centuries, and serves up a delectable range of noodles.
The 100-seat restaurant serves the likes of Kama Age, Beef Nikutama (with sweet short-rib and onsen egg), Two Pork Tonkotsu, and Chicken Katsu Curry Udon, and I’d like them all, please. Elsewhere on the menu, you can expect to find tempura to tempt you, with chicken, prawn, pumpkin, and squid croquettes all present, and fresh vegetables fried before your eyes. Marugame Udon’s chefs have also perfected a vegan tempura batter, and the restaurant has pledged that vegan dishes will make up 30% of the menu. It’s the first of their restaurants to launch a vegan offering!
Walking into Marugame Udon, the first thing you’ll see is the ‘Kama’: the udon boiler, where freshly-made noodles will be produced each day. It hearkens back to the early Kagawa udon kitchens, where noodles were served for the benefit of friends and family. You’ll be able to see chefs at work in the open kitchen, and customers will pick their udon over the counter. You can also build your own with the restaurant’s condiment station, and mains will start from as little as £3.45, music to our ears. Finally, the desserts will be plenty tempting; unlimited soft serve ice cream (vanilla and vegan matcha are the choices), stuffed dorayaki pancakes, and Little Moons mochi are all options here.
Marugame Udon follows a well-trodden path from Asia to London; Din Tai Fung, CoCo Ichibanya, and Jollibee are just three of the big names to make a successful leap to the capital. Based on a recipe of delicious hearty udon, you wouldn’t bet against Marugame Udon emulating them.
You can find Marugame Udon at 1-3 Widegate Street, Spitalfields, E1 7ES. Nearest station is Liverpool Street.
Also published on Medium.