Restaurant Review: Marukame Udon, Waikiki

The Waikiki area of Honolulu is notoriously expensive. If you're staying or spending the day in Waikiki, you'll be hard-pressed to find delicious, affordable food. As Waikiki was home-base during my trip to Hawaii, I did research on good eats in the area with a reasonable price tag. Based on the rave online reviews and my experiences, I believe Marukame Udon is the undisputed winner in that category!

For almost five years, Marukame Udon has been serving up the best bowl of thick, chewy Japanese-style wheat noodles or udon(うどん)in Waikiki. The noodles are made fresh to order; in fact, thanks to the restaurant's open kitchen, you can watch the chefs make them as you wait in line!

And wait in line you likely will. For around 20 minutes or more. Yes, Marukame Udon may be easy on the pocket, but word has certainly gotten around and it is one of the more popular spots for breakfast, lunch, or dinner (they're open from 7am to 10pm). Thus, long lines are part of the Marukame Udon experience. Don't be deterred — I waited in line twice for this udon, and both times it was well worth it!

The restaurant's ordering process is simple. You choose your bowl of udon from the short yet diverse menu, indicate whether you'd like a regular or large bowl (regular is pretty sizable), and say whether you'd like your udon cold or hot if it's an option. 

After that, you receive your bowl of noodles or a tray and move down the line to choose from various fairly-priced side dishes, either assorted tempura(天ぷら)or fried foods, or o-musubi(おむすび), rice balls. Lastly, you continue down the line to pay at the register, add free drinks, soups and condiments to your tray, then enjoy your delicious udon!

My first meal at Marukame Udon: Kake Udon with Japanese sweet potato, asparagus, and eggplant tempura,
and inarizushi(いなり寿司)or rice in tofu skin.
Vegetable Udon
On my first visit to Marukami Udon, I felt ravenous! I had the Kake Udon with a soft boiled egg and four sides — all for less than $10! The Kake Udon, which is made from a fish-based broth, was clear and deceivingly flavorful. The sides weren't greasy at all, and were a lovely addition to the broth.

My second visit to Marukami Udon was later in the evening than the first, and I wasn't nearly as hungry. Therefore, I chose the Vegetable Udon, which I actually expected not to like due to the lack of broth. It's not to say that the Kake Udon paled in comparison, but I actually enjoyed the Vegetable Udon more! The sesame oil drizzled on the noodles was super-flavorful, and the veggies were fresh, not sad and wilted like you'd often see in other restaurants at Marukami Udon's price point. 

Marukami Udon is definitely the place to eat if you find yourself in Waikiki. Everything tastes fresh, the staff is friendly, and while the wait can be long, the food is scrumptious!

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