Marugame Udon has long been one of Japan’s favourite noodle houses, and back in 2021 they followed the well-trodden path from Asia to London that other hit spots – think Din Tai Fung, CoCo Ichibanya, and Jollibee – had walked before.
First opening in Spitalfields, just around the corner from massive Italian food hall Eataly, Marugame Udon is spreading across town, with outposts at the O2 Arena, Canary Wharf and St Christopher’s Place in Marylebone. Since they’re renowned as udon and tempura masters, we’re pretty damn glad this noodle empire is here!
From October 1, Marugame will have a second flagship site on Oxford Street, and will be giving away 500 bowls of free Udon to celebrate the occasion. J-Pop singer MION will also be on hand to perform hit songs from anime like NARUTO, Demon Slayer and Sailor Moon between 1:30pm – 3pm.
The new 5,756 square foot restaurant will be located in Argyll Street, and to claim your free bowl of Udon you’ll need to join the Marugame club here, with the reward sent to the first 500 sign ups.
Oh, we should probably tell you about the food too (sorry, just distracted by the prospect of free Udon). 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 adds 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 menu boasts 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, 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. The London branches are the first to boast a vegan offering, which feels like pretty pleasing progress to me.
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. See chefs at work in the open kitchen, and pick your udon over the counter for the freshest noods.
You can also build your own bowls with the restaurant’s condiment station – and mains start from as little as £3.45, music to our ears. Finally, the desserts are 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. Udon’t want to miss out on a meal like this, trust me!
Also published on Medium.