Ryosuke and I have been doing an absurd amount of travel recently – some for work and some just for fun. There are numerous benefits of travel (evident on the half a million or so articles and book online about how travel will change your life and/or make you a better person)… but there are also some sucky parts of travel: dry hotel air so you wake up with a sore throat every morning, doing laundry in the sink, expensive public transportation, and eating out every night (because you rarely have a functioning kitchen). Basically, what I’m trying to say is while travel is fun, it is not all rainbows and unicorns.
But you’re not here to hear about that – you’re here for the delicious udon article. So here I go.
Whenever Ryosuke and I find ourselves on the road for two meals in a row, we always try to make sure one of those meals in soba or udon noodles. And our favorite place to go is the chain: 丸亀製麺 (Marugameseimen).
Since that’s a mouthful (no pun intended) I’m just going to call it Maru-men from here on out.
Maru-men is an udon chain store all over Japan, famous for their low prices and the fact that they make all their noodles from scratch inside the restaurant. If you’re lucky, you can watch the noodles be made.
This chain made quite a splash when it first opened because they were offering bowls of udon noodles as cheap as 290yen (just under $3), as opposed to the standard 750yen bowl of udon noodles most sit down restaurants offer.
They also serve fresh, piping hot tempura ranging from 80 – 200yen each (which, to be honest, is how they make their money). If your favorite tempura isn’t there, you can order it and watch them make it in the fryer in front of you.
Udon is either served in a hot broth or chilled, with a cool dipping sauce. Broths have dashi, soy sauce, and tsuyu with all-you-can-eat sliced spring onions and grated ginger. There are a bunch of toppings you can add on, like raw eggs, grated yam, wild vegetables, spicy fish eggs, and seaweed.
Every time I go to Maru-men, I order something new.
This time around I got spicy fish eggs and a raw egg over udon in a hot dashi-soy sauce broth.
I also ordered tempura takenoko (sliced and boiled baby bamboo).
Ryosuke got chilled udon noodles in a regular tsuyu dipping sauce with spring onions.
For tempura, he got a vegetable medley (pictured below) and a tempura-ed egg (crispy on the outside but the yolk was still completely runny).
Our entire meal was under 1000yen.
We sat at the restaurant eating, chatting, and planning what to do next (we’re in the Shiga prefecture right now) – before hopping in the car and continuing on our way. It was well after the lunch rush so we basically had the entire restaurant to ourselves.
Next time you’re in Japan, make sure to check out丸亀製麺 (Marugameseimen) for some delicious, cheap, fresh udon noodles!