Marugame Udon Is Now Slinging Noodles at Westfield UTC

An eagerly-awaited Japanese chain is finally serving bowls of its famous Sanuki-style udon noodles in the Westfield UTC Mall, with a grand opening scheduled for Monday, April 15. Slotting into the former Veggie Grill space near Macy’s, Marugame Udon will start pickup and delivery service through DoorDash and Uber Eats sometime next week, but the restaurant is currently open for dining-in with 24 indoor tables and 10 tables on the patio.

Marugame specializes in Sanuki udon, made with 100 percent wheat flour, water, and salt to produce pillowy, thick noodles. The style began in the Kagawa Prefecture on Shikoku Island in southern Japan, where the father of Marugame founder Takaya Awata is from. After visiting his father’s hometown, Awata was inspired to open his first Sanuki udon restaurant in Kakogawa city in Hyogo Prefecture back in 2000.

Interior of Marugame Udon.

Interior of Marugame Udon.
Helen I. Hwang

Popular dishes include the nikutama (based on an umami-rich broth with sweet beef, served hot or cold), tonkotsu (creamy pork broth), and beef (traditional dashi broth with sweet beef). The two vegan options include the vegan miso and the tan tan noodle dishes. If customers are in the mood for rice, there are also chicken teriyaki bowls, chicken katsu curry, and beef gyudon (sweet beef over rice). In addition to green onions and tempura, other add-on options include tempura, big chicken katsu, and kitsune age tofu. For drinks, customers can choose between a traditional iced matcha tea or calamansi lemonade, with more drink options on the way.

Cafeteria-style counter at Marugame Udon with workers and add-on toppings

Cafeteria-style counter at Marugame Udon.
Helen I. Hwang

Inside the restaurant, diners grab trays and order from the open-theater kitchen, choosing their toppings as they move along a cafeteria-style counter. Once a diner specifies what type of udon they want, the bowl itself is dipped in a 190-degree Fahrenheit liquid to heat the ceramic bowl. Then, the noodles and broth are added from a separate vat. Customers are also asked if they want their bowls “sanuki-style”, or topped with green onions and tempura, which is a sign of welcoming hospitality in Japanese dining according to Akinobu “Aki” Matsuo, culinary director for Marugame North America, who is in town to supervise the San Diego opening.

Cafeteria-style counter at Marugame Udon.

Cafeteria-style counter at Marugame Udon.
Helen I. Hwang

Matsuo, who visits every North American location once a month to ensure quality control, tells Eater that the UTC restaurant will offer seasonal specials like unique toppings or drinks. This is the chain’s 12th outpost in California, and store manager Kobe Thrower says that it could become its second busiest location after Hawaii.

Add-on toppings for the Marugame dishes.

Add-on toppings for the Marugame dishes.
Helen I. Hwang

The Marugame Udon team shared that the company is planning to ultimately open five locations across San Diego, with possible locations coming to Mitsuwa Marketplace, Convoy District in the new Zion Market complex, Clairemont Mesa, and Del Mar.

Nikutama udon noodle dish with sweet beef.

Nikutama udon noodle dish with sweet beef at Marugame Udon.
Helen I. Hwang

4353 La Jolla Village Dr H28, , CA 92122

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