Every evening when I pass by this Japanese udon place to get back to my hotel, it’s always having a queue, and I mean a pretty long one snaking a U shape in front of the store.
My innate ‘Singaporean food radar’ sounded. When there’s a queue, you GOT to check it out.
However, I’m so not queuing for this in the evening where the place is pretty small ( in Hawaii terms) and the queue is very long.
Queue!! (Photo taken from Marukame Udon Facebook)
So day after day I pass this place by. It was when I suddenly remembered about the udon place my airport transport driver recommended me. Then, it all clicked.
Thanks to a cancelled flight, I was scheduled for a afternoon flight instead of morning. In such a blessing in disguise, I decided to hit this place on the last morning in Hawaii.
Eating alone when travelling has its challenges.
As far as I am concern, whatever I buy as a meal would serve as 2 meals; lunch and dinner, since the American portion is huge.
Second would be the price.
Eating in Hawaii isn’t cheap either. A meal in restaurants can easily get you to USD$30 ~ $50 plus tip, and even though I have saved quite a fair bit so far, I’m not letting my wallet run low.
However when I looked at the signboard outside, I found the prices pretty affordable! In fact, it was fairly cheap!
I wonder if all the queue was for the price and not quality.
Nevertheless, I got to check it out myself.
So on the my last day in Hawaii, I had Japanese udon for brunch.
Stepping into the restaurant at 11:00am in the morning was PERFECT.
They serve breakfast from 07:00am – 09:00am (which I didn’t find out what their breakfast was) but 11:00am is the sweet timing they start to serve lunch!
Upon entering the restaurant, I was in for a surprise.
This queue in front of me greeted me with their backs and then I realised the person in front of me was picking up a plate and a tray.
Wow, that’s definitely something new.
It didn’t take long for me to figure out that the rectangle plate was for the tempura which I would be able to choose later. They even have take-away containers readily available for customers who are coming in to buy take-outs.
Since it’s a cafeteria style, the kitchen just behind the counter is transparent.
There is a table covered with flour in the corner of the shop where I assumed that the chefs made the udon freshly there everyday….
While I was there, I only managed to catch them cooking the freshly made udon on the spot.
Chef making udon from scratch (Photo taken from Marukame Udon Facebook)
Here in the video, you can join me in my cafeteria queue experience:
Don’t mind me pigging out since it was my last day in Hawaii!
Here’s what I had:
Otama Bukakke Udon (USD$4.25) (Don’t think wrongly!! Bukakke means “splash”. So in translation, it’s called Udon with egg and a splash of soy sauce)
Shrimp Tempura (USD$1.75)
Shiitake Mushroom Tempura (USD$1.50)
Eggplant Tempura and (USD$1.25)
Fried chicken skewer (USD$1.50)
Salmon Musubi (I took it away with me for a snack later) (USD$1.50)
Iced Ocha (Refillable) (Can’t remember how much)
*The sauce in the plastic kiddy bowl was for the tempura. It was quite funny they use that. But it was serendipitous. You need a good amount of surface area to dunk the tempura in, and on the other hand, can also be used if you need an extra bowl for the kids. One bowl, two purposes. Hey, and it’s washable, save the Earth’s resources!
I love the udon.
Soft, chewy and slurping the udon with the sauce still slipping on the noodle was a great experience.
Oh and in there, you don’t have to worry about the noises!
The restaurant is authentically Japanese and that slurping sound was everywhere I turned. Talk about dolby surround, you get what I mean~
I love the toppings of fried onions and spring onions. With the egg yolk, they coated the udon and provided an interesting crunch and a refreshing onion kick to the udon.
OK, I have to admit that I went too far on the tempura.
Other customers usually have 2 pieces of tempura with their udon.
And in fact, 2 pieces of tempura with Udon is the exact perfect portion size.
Any more, you will feel full-up. Trust me, I was there.
But I was so ready to try all of those tempura!
Whatever it was, I had to remind myself that my stomach could only handle that much. Or so I thought.
On a close up look, I was pretty concerned with the shiny oil glazing which I seriously thought it would turn out to be a flop.
Biting into the shrimp, the crunchiness of the shrimp meat stood out from the panko envelope.
It was pretty good sans the extra oil.
Being a fan of eggplant (aka brinjal/ aka aubergine) I HAD to have my eggplant tempura.
Turns out, the vegetable tempura tasted better than the shrimp and the fried chicken!
The fried chicken turned out to be a tad salty and since udon sauce is literally soy sauce + a little water; therefore salty + salty = extra salty. Not complimentary whatsoever.
Of course I could just wash down with iced ocha right?
The iced ocha isn’t the same kind or similar to those we have back in Singapore.
Unlike its fragrant cousin, it was thick, raw and rustic. Nuff’ said.
I have to say, it was an acquired taste, and I wasn’t used to it.
Overall, this place serves pretty good food. Just go easy on the tempura and enjoy the udon.
For that kind of pricing, I think it’s pretty worth the money (and the queue!).