Marugame Udon, the world’s largest chain of cafeteria-style udon restaurants, will have a grand opening Saturday for its new site at South Coast Plaza in Costa Mesa.
“After much anticipation, we are excited to announce the opening of our first Orange County location,” Jun Guto, president and chief executive of Toridoll Dining California, the parent company of Marugame Udon USA, said in a statement. “We hope that diners will enjoy the experience of freshly made, authentic Sanuki-style udon conveniently in their favorite South Coast Plaza.”
The popular concept features made-to-order udon — thick wheat noodles served hot or cold in Japanese cuisine. Alongside the udon bowls are tempura (vegetables and seafood lightly fried in tempura batter) and musubi (blocks of rice filled with meat and tied together with seaweed).
The new restaurant is near the Claim Jumper on the first floor of the shopping center’s Din Tai Fung wing.
The roughly 2,500-square-foot location marks Marugame’s continuing expansion in the United States. The chain has more than 1,000 restaurants worldwide, mostly in Asia and Europe. The U.S. operations span California and Hawaii.
A visit to Marugame starts by passing various machines and large boilers that cut and cook the udon. Guests grab a tray, choose an udon bowl and shift along the assembly line, which ends with trays of fresh tempura beneath heat laps.
Udon flavors include curry and the popular Nikutama, which is served with beef, a soft boiled egg and kake sauce. Unique to the California locations are the seasonal offerings of red cayenne chicken and green Thai chicken.
Tempura selections run the gamut from zucchini and shrimp to squid, chicken and tamagoyaki (a deep-fried Japanese omelet). Each tempura piece is individually priced.
All the while, employees wearing flat caps and T-shirts reading “It’s OK to slurp” will be heard chanting phrases in English and Japanese — such as “Fresh udon!” and “Fresh tempura!” — as they make the food.
IF YOU GO
What: Marugame Udon grand-opening event
When: 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday, including prizes, free gift cards and 30% off meals
Where: South Coast Plaza, 3333 Bristol St., Unit 1073, Costa Mesa
Cost: $10 to $15 for udon, tempura and a drink
Information: (714) 619-5688, marugameudon.com