Marugame Udon, which has more than 800 fast casual restaurants in Japan and a further 250 across Asia, the US and Russia, will open in the capital early next year through a new joint venture between Toridoll Holdings Corporation and Capdesia Group.
Marugame Udon (Europe) will become the master franchisee for the region and the new London restaurant, whose location is yet to be announced, will be followed by an ambitious roll out plan involving a combination of both owned and franchise operations in the UK and Europe, working in partnership with local brand operators. The company says its intention is to eventually operate 6,000 restaurants worldwide.
The new company will be headed by Keith Bird as CEO, who is also a non-executive director at Rum Kitchen and an advisor at restaurant group Wasabi.
Marugame Udon specialises in Sanuki udon, which differs from similar Japanese Udon noodles in its taste and texture. Sanuki is a region of the Kagawa prefecture in Japan known for its udon noodles, with the company producing noodles daily in its restaurants using Japanese-imported machines that mimic traditional preparation methods. The noodles then undertake an aging process where they are stored in a temperature-controlled environment.
Menu items include bukkake served with house made kake sauce; terikayi chicken bowl; chicken katsu sando; kitsune - made with Kake undon and sweet fried tofu; Sanuki udon noodles with a beef curry broth; and tonkontsu with chasu pork.
The tempura selection includes chicken, shrimp, squid, crab meat and sweet potato that are cooked in front of the customer, accompanied by toppings such as freshly grated ginger, green onion, tempura flakes and sesame seeds.
Customers chose their dish by number and select whether they want it in a hot or cold serving style and in what size portion before waiting in line while it is made to order. Following that, they go to a tempura and musubi station to choose any tempura, musubi (rice ball), inari (fried bean curd sushi) dishes they want.
“We would like to develop the Marugame Udon brand all over Europe by combining the experience we have cultivated over the years with Capdesia’s strong sector expertise and network,” says Takaya Awata, founder and president of Toridoll.
“We also hope that this relationship will be a stepping stone for the development of other Toridoll brands, as we continue to make progress toward our goal of reaching 6,000 restaurants worldwide.”
“Marugame Udon is dedicated to providing delicious, authentic Japanese udon noodles that taste exactly the way they’ve been served in Japan for hundreds of years,” says Bird.
“Their chefs cook fresh, handmade noodles and complementary tempura options in open kitchens in front of customers every day, all in keeping with traditional Japanese Omotenashi hospitality.
"We feel the market is now ready to embrace a more authentic and specialised offer but at a very affordable price point - essentially a fast-casual offer, in terms of quality of food and experience, but closer to QSR prices.”