It’s a mild Wednesday night as I make my way through the crowds in front of Liverpool Street. This is one of my favorite areas of London because as soon as you turn onto one of the many side streets you will be whisked out of the central station mania and find yourself in the midst of some of the best hidden gems in the city. One such gem is why I am here today – to see the launch of the new Marugame Udon London.
The building is right on the street corner, the glass windows shine in the sun. I step in and am greeted with the delicious scents of fresh Japanese cuisine. Crackling, stirring and chopping fill the air and I watch the cooks work in the open kitchen. Marugame Udon first opened its doors in 2000 and has since prided itself on making the most delicious udon noodles and fresh Japanese dishes. Your noodles are made daily from just three ingredients in the open kitchen. I take a tray and order my first dish from the menu, a teriyaki chicken. There are a variety of udons on offer including curry, beef yaki, and kimchi yaki, as well as rice bowls and other traditional dishes. I get a buzzer to let me know when my teriyaki chicken is freshly cooked and I make my way to the next stop – the tempura. Tempura is one of my favorite guilty feelings and it doesn’t disappoint.
Fatty zucchini, bell pepper and asparagus tempuras are wrapped in a deliciously crispy batter, alongside side dishes such as tempura egg, vegetable gyoza sticks, squid tempura, chicken katsu and more. A tempting selection, difficult to pick just a few to accompany my meal. I promise to have another visit in the near future so I can try some more.
The last stop in the service is the drinks. There is a wide variety of Japanese beverages such as Asahi beer by the pint, half a pint or by the bottle, soft drinks like Kombucha, green tea in a can, Ramune lemonade and refillable lemonade. I choose a refreshing, sparkling Yuzu & Cucumber Sake, a sparkling flavored sake from the Kanpai brewery; the UK’s first sake brewery.
The prices at Marugame Udon London are more than reasonable. Kamaage Udon starts at £ 3.45 and rice bowls start at £ 5.45. Once you’ve paid, you can head to their seasoning station where you can spice up your bowl. Here you will find freshly pickled ginger, chillies, spring onions, soy sauce and many other Japanese delicacies. It’s a simple but really nice touch and it allows you to end your meal with a swing.
The room fulfills everything one could wish for in a Japanese restaurant, and I feel transported across the pond to East Asia. Natural wood surfaces and clean lines decorate the room with simple decor, natural tones and a really minimalist aesthetic. It’s relaxing and calming while the background music loosens up the atmosphere. There are over 100 seats here, but the clever design and shape of the restaurant means it doesn’t get overcrowded.
I find a seat in the back of the restaurant, right in front of a large window that lets in light. The food is absolutely divine and proof that simplicity is sometimes the best way to dine. There is no presumption here, no pompous fanfare, just a focus on quality. The chicken is perfectly cooked, the rice delicious, the teriyaki sauce and the pickled ginger tasty without being intrusive. The accompanying tempura meets all the criteria, while my sake is a refreshing accompaniment.
Marugame Udon London is a place where you can enjoy a drink and delicious food with friends without breaking the bank. It’s a place to stop by on your lunch break to either eat or take away. It’s a place to go for a simple date night with your other half. And it’s a place you know won’t let you down; where you can guarantee you get exactly what you want and more, every time. The next time you’re looking to capture the authentic flavors of Japanese Udon in central London, you’ve come to the right place at Marugame Udon London.
114 Middlesex Street, London E1 7JH