Famed for their freshly made noodles, Marugame Udon opened on Sawtelle Blvd. a few weeks ago. Eater LA quickly declared it as possibly one of the most authentic Japanese restaurants in Los Angeles, which resulted in a line of curious diners that zig-zagged down the block.
Marugame Udon utilizes a cafeteria-style set up. You move along the line, choosing an udon dish, either with soup or dry, hot or cold, which gets made to order using noodles freshly cut via machine and tossed into boiling water.
After you’ve received your bowl, you move through the line, past a variety of tempura options (from chicken to shrimp to vegetables) and rice bowls. Once you’ve paid the cashier, there’s a station for you to add tempura bits, scallions, etc. to your bowl.
Prices are very reasonable, with a basic Kake Udon costing a mere $4.50. The noodles were soft in texture, not too chewy. The regular size portions are on the small side, so you can either get the larger size or consider adding some tempura to your meal (or maybe both).
The tempura is lightly fried, so they’re not heavy with oil or batter.
The karaage chicken likewise was not overly battered and featured dark meat, which had been marinated and then lightly coated and fried.
The Nikutama Udon, which can be ordered either cold or hot, topped with beef and egg. The luxuriousness of the egg yolk oozing onto the noodles, combined with the sweetness of the beef and the saltiness of the broth makes this a can’t miss dish.
Even though there was a long line, there were plenty of places to sit. After you finish your meal, you’ll need to buss your own dishes to clear the table for someone else.
If you’re a vegetarian/vegan, your noodle options are fairly limited. There’s a tomato udon and a tofu salad udon, both of which are served cold. Unfortunately there are no vegetarian hot udon selections, but they do offer vegetable tempura, if one is looking for something warm and vegetarian.
Is Marugame Udon the most authentic Japanese restaurant in Los Angeles? I would say the answer is no. Is it a great place to get a cheap bite to eat? Most definitely, yes.
Location – 2029 Sawtelle Blvd, Los Angeles 90025. Additional locations in Hawaii.
Website – http://marugameudon.com
Kid-Friendly – Yes
Kid’s Menu – No
Vegetarian/Vegan Friendly – Yes
Gluten-Free Options – Yes, no gluten-free udon, but they have rice bowls and tempura.