Marukame Udon has been my go-to Japanese noodle house for quite a while now. I’ve been going to 3 of their chains across Seoul and have been more than satisfied with all of them (less so the Hongdae location). They make all their noodles from scratch, giving them a distinct chewiness, while still being extremely affordable. They appear to be quite an international chain with even a store in Hawaii!
If you’ve read my blog for a while now, you’ll probably know that I’m quite passionate about Japanese noodles. While the anchovy-based Korean udon broth is all fine and dandy, I’m more accustomed to the katsuo-based Japanese broth. To me, it’s much bolder and cleaner (read as “not fishy”) tasting and also compliments the noodles much better. Places I’ve tried have been more or less satisfactory, but with Marukame I finally found what I’ve been looking for.
For directions on the locations I’ve visited see the bottom of this post!
가케우동 (Kake Udon/Plain Udon) – 3500 wonThe basic warm soup noodle dish. Even this simple dish is quite special with its chewy, handmade noodles in its savory broth. Like all the other soup noodle dishes, the noodles absorb the delicious flavor of the broth which is bold, but not overly salty. For only 3500 won, it’s still quite a steal. Sometimes basics are better!
자루 우동 (Zaru Udon/cold udon with sauce) – 3500 wonI’m really accustomed to cold soba (buckwheat) noodles, but this was a real surprise. The chewy, cold noodles go really well with the salty dipping soup and absorb the soup surprisingly well.
가마아게 우동 (Kamaage Udon) – 3500 wonI’ve actually never encountered this kind of udon until going to Marukame. It’s udon kept in a wooden bowl of hot water with a dipping sauce and condiments on the side. The sauce has a bold, tangy flavor, akin to tonkatsu sauce. I’m not particularly a big fan of this as the hot water broke down the noodles to the point that they lost their chewiness. Furthermore, the sauce didn’t seem to seep very well in the noodles, making the flavor feel rather diluted.
기츠네우동 (Kitsune Udon) – 4800 wonOne of my favorites, this is the regular udon served with a large, thick piece of sweet fried bean curd. The bean curd is just so spongy and chewy, while giving off a nice sweetness. It is a tad sweeter than most kitsune udon I have tried.
니꾸우동(Sweet Beef Udon) – 6500 wonAnother favorite of mine, for an extra 3000 won over the basic udon, you get some sweet marinated pork over your udon. The meat itself is quite good, with a nice chewiness and a very pleasant sweetness from the marinade. The sweetness of the meat pairs really well with the broth and the noodles, making a more complete experience.
The sides can be somewhat hit or miss. Like anything that stays under a heat lamp, they sides can dry out and taste less than inspiring. During peak times, the sides are pretty good and make a great addition to the main dish. I personally like the sanuki chicken and the fried fish puree tube.
By far the best Japanese noodle shop I’ve been to in Korea, Marukame provides a fresh, quality noodle experience that I can’t seem to get enough of. There’s very little to complain about and the quality is usually pretty consistent. The only chain I’m somewhat dissatisfied with is the Hongdae one because they seem to overcook their noodles and it loses their signature chewiness. If you are looking for a quality, Japanese udon experience, I highly recommend this amazing place.
Here is the list of stores I’ve visited (the address is located in the link under the first field):