Marugame udon first Europe location
With over 800 restaurants in Japan, and a further 250 in the rest of Asia and the USA. Marugame Udon has its eyes on the UK and European markets. The very first London has opened up in the heart of Spitalfields, taking over the Wahaca location at Middlesex Street. It is literally across the road from Liverpool Street at the beginning of the outdoor Petticoat Lane Market.
Marugame Udon serves up sunki udon, rice bowls, omsubi, fried tempura. The concept is cross between self-serve and fast food.
As a newly opened Japanese restaurant, queues formed outside before the opening time of 12 pm on Sunday. One of the staff was outdoors handing out the menu and going through the concept, but failed to approach me and needed prompting.
The overall service is rushed and if you’re a first-timer or someone indecisive this is not the place for you. Barely looking at the lighted display menu above, the single file queue was fast-moving. Luckily I already knew what I wanted and quickly ordered it at the first person taking my order. With a clear window display, you are close approximately to people making your udon and tempura.
How it works
Boilers are lined up for customers ordering soup based udons, stir-fried udon are also available and the prices start from £3.45. Ordering a beef nikutame, I watched as a machine lowered a portion of udon, chucked it into a bowl and moved on to the next person to fill up. Onsen egg cracked, soup poured into the bowl, topped with short rib beef, caramelised onions and raw scallions.
The tempura station was up next, little shelves of various cooked tempura are displayed neatly. The self-serve bar is ready to fill up to your heart’s content.
As you move your tray along, you end up at tills to pay. As mentioned before the experience is hurried and I was unaware at the time that there was desserts options, unlimited coconut and matcha soft serves, dorayaki pancakes, little moons mochis.
Once you have paid you get to the toppings corner, where you have free toppings like crispy onions, ginger etc. Staff rushed me to my seat and I forgot to pick up a spoon for the udon soup.
There is a gamble with how fresh and hot the tempura you pick can be.
Beef Nikutame 肉玉 £7.95 with caramelised onions is over flavoured to mix together with the bland noodles and delicate soup. Meat is tender, chewy. Udon is a good texture and is cooked until you get that bite. Being a place where the tempura is pre-cooked and not cooked to order. There is a gamble with how fresh and hot the tempura you pick can be. Unfortunately some of the items, like the chicken karage £2.45 was cold and bland. Kakiage (かき揚げ) £1.95 is battle to eat, as it’s piled to the top, but taste fantastic dipped in the soup. The pumpkin Korokke £1.25 ビーガンコロッケ was the only item that was piping hot and crunchy.
Tip: Sign up to the Marugame Udon Club for 2 free tempuras, and decide on what you’re eating beforehand.
For more information please visit Marugame website.
Address: 114 Middlesex St, London E1 7JH
- food4/5 Good
- Value5/5 Amazing
- service2/5 Bad
- ambience4/5 Good
- decor4/5 Good