Marukame Udon & Tempura is a popular hot-spot in Chatswood for those who need their Japanese noodle fix. To construct your meal here, you order your noodle off their menu, load up on sides as you move down their tempura bar (dangerous for the back pocket if you’re not careful) and pay for it all at the end. This is very similar to the system at Mappen Noodle Restaurant on George Street. However, the difference here is that the kitchen is at the front of the store for all to see and shows that at Marukame, they make their udon on-site for their diners.
They have a wide selection of udon to choose from, ranging from the basic Kamaage udon to the familiar Tonkotsu option and even more exotic options like curry and dan dan udon noodle! As we wanted to try their basic selection, we decided to stick with the more traditional options with me ordering the very traditional Kamaage udon and my girlfriend ordering a Bukkake udon, which is . . . calm down, a traditional cold udon served in a dashi and soy broth.
Our noodle order was served up to us on the spot and we moved down the line to be confronted by a plethora of tempura and side options to add onto our meal. I grabbed a piece of prawn tempura and pork chop while my girlfriend grabbed the eggplant tempura, curry croquette, crown daisy (which was chrysanthemum greens in tempura) and the vegetable stack.
After we paid for the meal, we moved to the condiment stand which had the usual suspects of udon toppings: spring onions, tempura bits and sesame seeds, as well as an arrangement of sauces for your sides. We got a small serving of thick soy sauce topped with chilli oil for our tempura.
The Kamaage Udon is one for the purists; it is served in a wooden bowl and can be eaten individually or shared among a group. The udon is served with a very lightly flavoured broth and a dashi and soy dipping sauce. I ordered the XL size thinking “How much noodle could they give for $6.30?”. The answer, I soon found out, was “a lot”. I watched a regular bowl of noodle come out and smugly thought that it was exactly what I expected . . . but then it was served to the person behind me! What came out for me was a monster of a bowl big enough to feed an entire family. I topped this with spring onions, tempura bits and a sprinkle of chilli powder.
The first taste of the udon and broth definitely hit the spot. The noodles were springy, held together well and tasted very fresh. The dipping sauce helped add some umami to the udon and was definitely necessary to complete the dish.
The Bukkake Udon was a whole different beast. There’s no dipping sauce here and can be served either hot or cold. My girlfriend ordered the medium size and topped it with spring onion, tempura bits and sesame seeds. Like the Kamaage Udon, the noodles were cooked perfectly but the salty broth was a delight, with strong flavours of soy and dashi. It was a refreshing noodle that my girlfriend polished off very quickly. We found that the cold broth also meant that by the end of the meal, the toppings were still crunchy, unlike my starchy mess.
The tempura was, at best, ok. We found the eggplant and prawn tempura pieces to be fresh and satisfying and the curry croquette an interesting but delicious accompaniment. The crown daisy was nothing special, being mostly batter and the pork chop was solid but bland. The vegetable stack was difficult to stomach as it tasted of stale oil and consisted mostly of onion. We barely touched it after the first taste but I can imagine it’s difficult to fry such a large item properly and keep it warm on the bar for an extended period of time. We accompanied our meal with the water available at the condiment bar.
Overall it was a pretty satisfying meal and the udon really shone through. We’ll definitely be back to scratch that udon itch another time. Next time I’ll go for something more adventurous but I think I’ll skip the sides.
We visited during the Willoughby Spring Festival which meant the restaurant was slightly busier than usual.
This meal was $26 incl. sides. They accept cash or card.
To celebrate Marukame Australia’s third anniversary, they held a three-day special event where selected best sellers were sold at a promotional price of $3. We spoke to Marukame Australia and they asked us to come back and try the Kamaage Udon the traditional way, with ginger and sesame seeds.
I have to say, it made more sense not having the tempura pieces there to get soggy in the noodle soup. That being said, eating the noodles with ginger and sesame seeds adds a whole new level of flavour. The freshness of the ginger cuts through the dipping sauce while the sesame seeds give it a nice crunch. Definitely worth trying the “traditional” way.
I couldn’t go without having my tempura fix, though, so I also ordered the Bukkake Udon (cold) on the side. The great thing about ordering medium sizes is you have space for more! I’ve been aching for this dish ever since I tried my girlfriend’s last time and I’m happy I got it!
Happy Anniversary, Marukame Australia. Here’s to many more!