In The Media | CSR
30 June 2022
Marugame Udon and Tempura serve its food cafeteria-style, where patrons line up, pick up a tray and begin the ordering journey. When I finally visited, a staff member stood at the front of the line and called customers up when there was enough room to seat more. Despite the wait and its small dining area, the line moved more quickly than I expected. There were also enough signs around explaining the proper steps to make one’s way through the line, and friendly staff to further guide in the right direction.
While it sounds straightforward, I was both surprised at how much I fell in love with the concept and menu options and shocked that it hadn’t made its way to us sooner.
Just beyond the glass is the open kitchen, showcasing udon noodles in the making, chicken, and meat being cut and cooked, and the staff in constant communication, relaying orders or how many people are in each party and ensuring them there was enough seating available before taking more orders.
I immediately knew I wanted to try one of their curry udon dishes, so I went with chicken. After choosing my meal, I approached the station for toppings, which consisted of tempura flakes and green onions. At this point, you can also request extras like chicken, beef or a soft-boiled egg for an upcharge. Once they handed over my bowl of goodness, I moved onto the tempura station, arguably both the best and worst part. Best, because it’s tempura, and worst because it was difficult to make a hasty decision in the midst of a long line. I managed and went with chicken, sweet potato and asparagus. On several occasions when ordering veggie tempura at sushi restaurants, it’s no surprise to receive a vast majority of onion and broccoli, so it was nice to wield the power to choose my own vegetables.
Once I paid and had my tray ready to go, a staff member guided me to my seat and pointed toward the table behind me where they offered soy sauce, tempura sauce and a couple of hot sauces. The tempura was fried to perfection and I regretted not piling more onto my plate. Yet, the chicken curry udon is now one of the favorite meals I’ve had as of late. The shredded chicken and tempura flakes mixed seamlessly into the thick, flavor-packed broth. This time, unlike many of my dining excursions, there was not enough left over to take home.
Marugame Udon’s concept is interesting, but what makes it most fascinating is how the staff works together to ensure they don’t miss a beat. On top of that is how attentive they are to their customers — likely because they have to work in such a small space with high demand, but everyone seemed genuinely happy to help. When I finished my meal and a staff member noticed the slightest hesitation to check where I could leave my tray, he ran over and said, “Oh, I will take that from you.” Not 30 seconds before I walked away, someone else walked up behind him to wipe down the table where I was seated to be ready for the next customer. They’re fast, efficient and friendly, and it’s easy to see why they have been able to expand and succeed so rapidly.