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In the downtown “strip” of Honolulu is a busy little udon shop, so busy that we arrived at 11am (their opening time) and there was already a lineup out the door. It’s called Marukame Udon, and they function cafeteria style. That is, you place your order, wait for it to be made, proceed to “appetizers/sides” and pick your own, pay, sit, eat, go.
The menu offers a handful of different flavours from traditional Kake to Curry and Niku. The prices are cheap – a “medium/regular” bowl costs from $2.50-$5.25 – you’re able to upgrade to a large bowl for another $1 or so.
What’s great is that you get to watch them make the udon noodles by hand as you’re waiting to place your order. They take great care and weigh each udon bowl.
Although they were busy, I admired the fact they all seemed to stay friendly.
When you’re done ordering the udon of your choice, they make it for you in front of your eyes, ask if you’d like scallions and other toppings (that I can’t remember off the top of my head at the moment). After that, there’s a cafeteria style area where you can your side – they have many popular Japanese items like vegetable and prawn tempura, spam musubi, croquette, chicken wings (which I heard are really delicious!) and much more. They all range from $1.25-$2.
Okay now, onto the food. I ordered the Niku Udon that has beef shreds in it and Brian ordered the Curry Udon.
My Niku Udon was delicious. In fact, I don’t think I’ve found anything that can rival the taste of Marukame here in Vancouver. The noodles were a bit past al dente – where it was not so chewy but not so soft. Basically, it didn’t feel like I was eating rubber like I often feel like when I eat udon here in Vancouver.
The broth which I think is made traditionally with soy and dashi also had some beef broth. The sweetness complimented the buttery taste of the beef. They are very generous here, I ordered a regular udon and it was filling. I was very tempted to finish the soup but I refrained (cuz it was hot and I’m not sure whether they use MSG here or not).
For my sides, I chose Spam Musubi and Croquette (as you can see, I kinda over did it on the sauce..whoops!). The proportion is worth the price, but I can’t say I found the sides too appealing.
Brian had the Curry Udon and it was the Japanese kind of curry, which is more sweet than Indian curry. His broth was thicker than mine and packed quite the punch of flavour. It wasn’t to the point where it was overwhelming and you feel like you’re eating mostly sauce, but complimented and sealed into the udon quite well.
He chose prawn tempura and spam musubi as his sides, again he wasn’t so impressed either.
Other than that, this place is A MUST TRY if you’re heading to Honolulu! It’s worth the wait in line! There are many other udon places in Honolulu, but try this one first!
Since Honolulu is tourist central, you’ll be hard pressed to find a meal under $6. Here at Marukame, you’re able to get a big bowl of noodles and a side for that much.