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Marugame Udon Might Be the Most Authentic Japanese Restaurant in LA

The quick-service noodle specialist boasts reasonable prices

Nikutama udon at Marugame Udon
Matthew Kang

Sawtelle Japantown has a new place for noodles called Marugame Udon, and it’s possibly one of the most authentic Japanese food experiences in the city of LA. That’s because of the setup: it’s a cafeteria-style fast-casual restaurant that feels like it’s plucked right out of a busy Tokyo block.

Opened last week on Thursday, September 14, the expansive eatery offers a slew of udon noodles (prepared by a machine, naturally), via soup or dry, in various sizes and topping formations. Then diners take the bowl, which is prepared to order, then fill their plates with various fried tempura. After paying, there’s a station to finish off bowls with fried tempura bits, cilantro, or green onions.

Prices are reasonable, starting at just $4.50 for a basic kama-age udon bowl which is served in a wooden bowl with a flat bottom. Curry and spicy chicken udon add a bit more flair while things like the beef, tomato, tonkotsu (fatty broth), and nikutama add even more fun. The nikutama features a sweet beef broth served in a moderate portion and topped with a soft-boiled egg. Tempura pieces might include asparagus, sweet potato, shrimp, chicken, and squid, and they each cost $1.00 to $1.80 per piece, and can be enjoyed on the side or in the udon bowl itself.

So why is Marugame Udon one of the most authentic Japanese experiences in LA? The self service, the cafeteria-style arrangement, the reasonable prices, and even the dining room, which asks customers to bus their own tables afterwards. All of that is indicative of a traditional fast-casual eating experience one might find in a Japanese city.

Marugame Udon first opened in Honolulu under the moniker Marukame Udon but adjusted the name once it opened in the Continental U.S.

Marugame Udon 2029 Sawtelle Blvd.Los Angeles, CA. Open 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Sunday to Wednesday, and until midnight on from Thursday to Saturday.

Marugame Udon Sawtelle
Marugame Udon Sawtelle
Marugame Udon Sawtelle
Marugame Udon Sawtelle

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