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Marugame Udon’s first Orange County location has grand opening Saturday at South Coast Plaza

Marugame Udon
Red cayenne chicken udon is a seasonal offering unique to California locations of Marugame Udon. The chain’s first Orange County restaurant has its grand opening Saturday at South Coast Plaza in Costa Mesa.
(Scott Smeltzer / Staff Photographer)

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).

Marugame Udon
Trays of tempura and chicken katsu are offered at Marugame Udon in Costa Mesa’s South Coast Plaza.
(Scott Smeltzer / Staff Photographer)

The new restaurant is near the Claim Jumper on the first floor of the shopping center’s Din Tai Fung wing.

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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.

Marugame Udon
Lunch and dinner at Marugame Udon range from $10 to $15 per person for an udon bowl, tempura and a drink.
(Scott Smeltzer / Staff Photographer )

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.

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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

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