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Tuesday 14 August 2012

Marukame Udon, Oahu Hawaii - quick bowl of freshly made ramen, but avoid the onsen tamago egg

Rating Udon 6/10, Onsen Tamago egg 0/10
There's line ups out the door almost every night at this cafeteria style udon stand that makes their udon fresh everyday. Curious, we joined the line up for lunch and watched through the open kitchen the orchestrated chaos that goes into making a bowl of udon. Staff are friendly, if rushed, and we joined the melee at Marukame Udon.

These guys make their udon fresh everyday... while you're waiting in line, you can watch the process! Here's a chef who noticed me being camera happy (along with other tourists), he happily posed with arms laden with dough

Next, the dough is popped into a machine to roll out and cut into noodles

Followed by a hot bath

A cold shower

And its time to be scooped up, steaming hot

into your bowl to be cooled down or served piping hot

Your noodles are then topped with either sauce or broth - with a smile!

And topped with cooked shaved beef if you ordered the Niku Udon or shaved beef udon

And a good dose of chopped green onions, crispy tempura batter crumbs and an egg if you want a bit more protein. Not, as we though, soft boiled, but an onsen tamago egg. This "hot spring egg", is an egg cooked to 165F, so when you crack the egg open, it slides out as if its still uncooked, with a deliciously light almost custard like texture. Its also really tricky to pull off without leaving the egg raw, and getting food poisoning after. Lets just say we found out the hard way that unless you have a vast amount of time you want to spend on toilet, avoid the egg option here.

Next, you have a long counter full of deep fried tempura choices

Interspersed with musubi choices: Spam and Portuguese sausage (on plain sushi rice)

More deep fried fare

With a little army of staff churning out the deep fried goods almost as fast as they fly off the counter.

This was my boyfriend's Niku Udon shaved beef udon. The fresh noodles are swimming in a salty savoury comfort inducing broth, and is topped with a little bit of shaved beef in a savoury sauce. Was a decent bowl of udon, other than his dismay when he bit into his onsen tamago, and realized the egg yolk was ICY COLD. Unfortunately, from that one undercooked egg, he had the runs for the next 4 days. Not the most ideal way to spend your vacation. There's no way of knowing if onsen tamago style eggs are cooked properly other than by biting into it, so to the staff of Murukame Udon - stick to soft boiled eggs, so your customers don't get sick after.

If it wasn't for that disastrously undercooked egg, this udon would have been really tasty.

I had the Bukkake Udon, a cold udon served with very salty, earthy dashi broth as it was waaaay too hot outside for hot udon.

We had some lightly battered, though a bit greasy tempura'ed mushrooms, heavily battered shrimp, and a tasty Inari - bean curd pocket braised in sauce, filled with toasted sesame and a big chunk of plain sushi rice

As well as some tempura'ed calamari, asparagus and a grease laden korokke or Japanese croquette

And a tasty Portuguese sausage musubi for completeness sake. As each fried or non-fried item is added on separately, a simple $5 noodle bowl quickly becomes $20+ if your eyes are bigger than your stomach.

Next time, I'll be nicer to my arteries (and my boyfriend's GI tract) and stick to the completely cooked items, and a simple Kammage Udon - just plain cooked noodles that you dip into a ginger and green onion sauce.

Overall, an ok place to grab a fast bowl of udon. Just avoid the undercooked eggs with raw cold centres unless you want to entertain gastroenteritis for the next few days.

Marukame Udon
2310 Kuhio Avenue, Honolulu, HI 96815
Phone (808) 921-2740
Hours Open daily for lunch and dinner
Marukame Udon on Urbanspoon


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