Oahu – Day 1 – Part 1
In a blink of an eye it’s been a year after my last big vacation. I have an odd feeling that the labor day weekend is my vacation time (it’s only been two years in a row but I might have something in mind for labor day next year). Anyways, Hawaii 2014 is a bit of a Korea 2013 deja vu trip, I’ll explain later. But first things first, I made a couple things a big priority for my family trip to Hawaii and interesting it was all about one restaurant; Marukame Udon (or in Korea it was Marugame Udon).
It was the first thing we did in Hawaii (after settling in our hotel etc.), our hotel was a short walk to Marukame Udon and when we got there, there was a line out the door already, it was only 3 or 4 pm. Marukame Udon makes their udon fresh on site, and while in line you can see the guys making udon.
Once inside, grab a tray and order your udon. It is basically cafeteria style. Order and get your food then pay at the end of the line. Check out my post on the South Korea – HongDae location for a more detailed description of how it works.
Though the menu looks very similar to the one in South Korea it was in English! I know it’s nothing to be excited about since we’re in Hawaii but it still made me happy. I also noticed that they had other options posted on the side like a garlic chicken salad udon (I didn’t order it but it looked good). Some of the menu items are also available hot or cold (perfect for a hot summer day); large or small. You can also easily order everything by a number rather than trying to pronounce the name. The menu they have on their website is set up a little differently, it has a very very helpful description of each type of udon.
We ordered several different types of udon to try:
Ontama Bukkake Udon (cold)
“Udon served in a flavorful sauce topped with a soft boiled egg.” I got this one cold (well I just prefer my udon cold) with the egg on top.
“Traditional broth with a light fish and seaweed taste.” If you’re looking for light flavors, this one is probably for you (and for my Dad). The udon and the soup flavors blend perfectly, though the flavors are light you still taste everything.
“Niku Udon has the same traditional broth as the Kake Udon but topped with sweet beef and carmelized onions.” This is one of the few items on the menu with meat visibly in the broth. I found this one a little too sweet after a while. If I hadn’t read the description, I would never have guessed that it was the Kake Udon broth. The sweet beef and carmelized onions took over most of the fish and seaweed flavors.
“Udon comes straight from the boiler and doesn’t go through a cooling process making the noodles more texturized all around. It is served with a hot dipping sauce (Bukkake sauce) which is more flavorful than the Kake broth.” Though it probably looks super boring, it was actually fun to eat. The Udon noodles are little softer than the ones you good with the broth. With the sauce on the side, you can decide just how flavorful you want your noodles to be. I guess this is a good one to have tempura with.
Tempura and Musubi
Tempura: mushroom, fish cake (chikuwa), eggplant, sweet potato. Musubi: seaweed, spam, salmon. They also have fried chicken and inari (fried bean-curd stuffed with vinegar sushi rice). I love the udon, but the tempura and musubi just wasn’t very good. The rice in the musubi was very bland and the toppings did not help. Even the spam musubi was a little sad.
Plus those things really added up. After going to Marukame Udon twice on our trip, we found that it was much more expensive to get 3 bowls of udon plus 9 pieces of musubi and tempura than it was to get 4 bowls of udon. So if you’re checking out Marukame Udon (on a budget) be careful with musubi and tempura (though they look amazing as you stand in line).
Marugame Udon in South Korea was one the few meals we had in South Korea that has been lingering in my mind since that trip. What I really wanted to know was whether that place was really that amazing or if we were just really hungry. When I came home and found out they had a couple locations in Hawaii, I knew I was going to Hawaii (did I mention I’m going to Hawaii for a family wedding?).
Although there are only two locations in the United States and both located in Oahu, they also located in Japan, Thailand, China, South Korea, Hong Kong, and Russia.
2310 Kuhio Avenue, Suite 124
Honolulu, HI 96815