I was quite surprised to see Marukame Udon opening up in Chatswood, because we had previously had it on my recent trip to Hawaii and hadn’t realised that it was a global franchise. I was even more pleasantly surprised to find out that Marukame Udon is actually a sister store to Hakata-Maru Ramen which is in the Market City food court. Seems like fast, tasty and affordable Japanese noodle canteens are taking over Sydney.
To draw an easy comparison, Marukame Udon is based on the same premise as Mappen in the city – choose from the range of udon bases with soup or dipping sauces, then add whatever fried goodies takes your fancy from the counter as you move your tray along to the cashier. It’s a simple concept, but oh so effective and even though there may be long lines, the queue does move quite quickly.
Marukame Udon is a double storey store, but it’s quite narrow so most of the first floor fills up fast and you’ll have to be careful taking your tray upstairs as we saw a person slipping on their way up. We decided to try a range of different styles of udon – my favourite was the basic Kake Udon with Beef, which features a light, but tasty soup flavoured with white dashi, mirin, sugar and soy sauce. The udon noodles are fat, slippery and silky smooth, just the way they should be and soak up all the glorious soup. You can add tempura crumbs and shallots to your taste as well at the condiments station and we loaded the bowls up for extra crunch and flavour. As this udon included some thinly sliced beef, I didn’t think it really needed any extras on the side, but we did get some Fried Vegies, Curry Croquette and Sesame Chicken for nibble on. They were reasonable, but nothing special – the star of the meal is undoubtedly the udon.
Kake Udon with Beef (Medium), $ 6.90 Fried Vegies, Curry Croquette and Sesame Chicken (below) $1.90 – $2.40 each
Other udons we tried were the Kamaage Udon, which is the most traditional of all the udons on offer, served in a nice wooden basket with some plain broth and designed to be dipped into a soy based sauce on the side. This one got a bit messy since the udon was so slippery and wasn’t as tasty as the Kake Udon in my eyes.
Kamaage Udon, $4.90 and Tonkotsu Udon, $7.90
We also ordered the Tonkotsu Udon which came with half a soft boiled egg and the usual toppings that come with a ramen such as sliced fatty pork, wood ears and crunchy vegies. The broth was a slightly odd mixture of the thick pork bone soup we’re familiar with through ramen and the lighter udon broth. I wasn’t a big fan of this and think that the basic Kake Soup is still the most appropriate complement for the udon.
Curry Udon, $6.90
The Curry Udon was interesting, with quite a strong flavour from the curry sauce slightly diluted by the broth, but a rather thick consistency which coated the udon. There was a bit of meat in there and some sliced onions, which added some taste and texture.
Marukame Udon offers very affordable meals, which are fairly healthy (or seem it anyway!) and still manage to be delicious. While it is a canteen, it’s a bit more sleek than Mappen and more airy too, making it a reasonable place to take the family. We fed a family of 4 for just over $25 – insane value in this increasingly overpriced city!
332 Victoria Avenue, Chatswood NSW 2067
Phone: (02) 9413 9434